@StateDept Now Accepting Applications For Spanish Speaking Visa Officers

Posted: 12:14 am ET
Updated: 9:59 pm PT
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Updated:  The State Department informed us that it has updated a couple items on benefits for the Consular Fellows announcement. Note that the Consular Fellow LNA appointment is for 60 months and that the second payment of the recruitment incentive would take place at the end of the 48 months of consecutive services. See additional details here: https://careers.state.gov/work/foreign-service/consular-fellows

The State Department is currently accepting applications for Spanish speaking visa officers.  This program is similar to its predecessor, the Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA LNA) program. The initial appointment is for 27 months  60 months. The announcement notes that “Consular Fellows serve on the front lines of a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and are critical to America’s national security. Consular Fellows conduct one-on-one interviews and review supporting documentation to determine if a foreign national meets the requirements for entry into the United States.”

These jobs are so critical to America’s national security that we can only afford to hire people on limited appointments to do this work. Which seems to indicate that the demand for visa services is a temporary surge. It is not. In FY2011, the State Department issued 7,507,939. In FY2015, the State Department issued 10,891,745 visas. The demand for visas continues on an up swing.  The total nonimmigrant visa workload (issuances/refusals) in FY2015 is 14,013,695.

The Consular Fellows Program offers candidates a unique opportunity to serve their country, utilize their foreign language skills, and develop valuable skills and experience that will serve them well in follow-on professions.

Foreign Service Consular Fellows serve in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas alongside Foreign Service Officers, other U.S. agency personnel, and locally-employed staff. Using their language skills in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, or French, their primary duty is to adjudicate visas for foreign nationals. Duties and responsibilities are similar to those of entry-level career Foreign Service Officers. While at post, Consular Fellows are members of the embassy or consulate community and receive many of the same benefits that career Foreign Service members receive, such as housing and educational allowances for eligible family members. View a more detailed description of the type of work involved and benefits provided.

Consular Fellows are hired via limited non-career appointments (LNAs)*. The initial appointment is for 27 months, and may be extended up to a maximum of five years, depending on satisfactory performance and the needs of the Service. Consular Fellows may terminate their appointment at any time with 30 days’ notice. However, if they choose to do so before completing a total of 12 months of service at post, they are obligated to repay certain costs associated with their travel, transportation, and other relocation allowances, unless the termination is triggered by circumstances beyond their control, as deemed by the U.S. Department of State.

New hires who commit to a four-year service agreement will be eligible to receive a recruitment incentive of up to 10% of their basic salary.  This incentive would be paid in two installments: one upon completion of the first two-year assignment, and the second at the end of the second two-year assignment (48 months of service). In addition, Consular Fellows may be eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) at any post in which they serve when they sign an initial three-year service agreement.  For more information on the program, click here.

These are paid, non-career positions. The Consular Fellows program, similar to its predecessor, the Consular Adjudicator Limited Non-Career Appointment (CA LNA) program, is not an alternate entry method to the Foreign Service or the U.S. Department of State, i.e. this service does not lead to onward employment at the U.S. Department of State or with the U.S. government. Consular Fellows are welcome to apply to become Foreign Service Specialists, Foreign Service Generalists, or Civil Service employees, but they must complete the standard application and assessment processes.

If you have additional questions about the Consular Fellows Program, please visit the Consular Fellows forum or post a message.

According to careers.state.gov, beginning in the fall of 2016, all candidates for the Consular Fellows Program for Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, and French will apply online and will be directed to a testing site near them to take an online test. Candidates who score sufficiently well on the online test will then be asked to take a telephone test in one of the six languages above. If they reach the required proficiency level, they will be invited to an oral assessment in Washington, D.C. or in San Francisco.

 Read more here.

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Malian National Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison For Conspiracy to Murder US Diplomat in Niger

Posted: 12:07 am ET
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In September 2013, we blogged about Malian national Alhassane Ould Mohamed who was indicted for the 2000 murder/attempted murder of US Embassy Niger staffers.  In March 2016, Alhassane Ould Mohamed pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder a U.S. diplomat stationed at US Embassy Niger. In late April, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to murder William Bultemeier, a DOD civilian employee and retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant.  The victim was  deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger in July 2000 where he served as the Defense Attache Systems Operations Coordinator. He was murdered the day he was supposed to return home to North Carolina 15 years ago.

 

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State/WHA Gets Mari Carmen Aponte as Acting Assistant Secretary

Posted: 12:05 am ET
Updated: 5:19 pm PT
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On May 5, the State Department appointed Mari Carmen Aponte as the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (State/WHA).  Which probably means there won’t be a formal nominee for this position until after the elections in  November.  The assistant secretary is responsible for managing and promoting U.S. interests in the region by supporting democracy, trade, and sustainable economic development, and fostering cooperation on issues such as citizen safety, strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law, economic and social inclusion, energy, and climate change.

Previously, Ms. Aponte was the Ambassador of the United States to El Salvador from 2012 until February 2016. In 2015, President Obama nominated her to be the Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States (OAS) with the rank of Ambassador. (PN628). That nomination has been stuck in committee since last year.

The WHA leadership is currently composed of career diplomat Paco Palmieri who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary; and four five deputy assistant secretaries (DAS): career diplomats John CreamerAlex LeeGonzalo Gallegos, and Kenneth Merten (who is also the Haiti Special Coordinator). The fifth DAS is former WH person staffer Juan Gonzalez who also previously served as Chief of Staff to the former WHA Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela.

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Secretary Kerry Swears-In Roberta Jacobson, the New U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

Posted: 12:02 am ET
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