Legal Adviser’s Files: Opinions by the Legal Adviser, et al.

Memorandum by Mr. Raymund T. Yingling of the Legal Adviser’s Staff to the Chief of the Visa Division ( L’Heureux )

Subject: May [Section] 3 (7) Visas Be Issued to Members of the Indonesian Delegation Attending United Nations Meetings on Invitation of UNO?1

In reply to your request for the views of this office concerning the above subject, you are advised as follows:

Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 19242 was amended by the International Organizations Immunities Act to provide for the issuance of non-immigrant visas to a new category (7) of persons described in the following language:

“a representative of a foreign government in or to an international organization entitled to enjoy privileges, exemptions and immunities as an international organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act, or an alien officer or employee of such an [Page 50] international organization and the family, attendants, servants, and, employees of such a representative, officer, or employee”.3

Since the United Nations is such an “international organization”, representatives of the Indonesian Government may be issued 3 (7) visas if they are representatives “of a foreign government in or to” that organization. The plain, simple meaning of these words would seem to be any representative of a government other than the U.S., e.g. Indonesia, coming to an international organization, e.g. the United Nations, on official business; the use of the word “to” as well as “in” evidencing an intention to cover all possible cases. Has Congress elsewhere indicated a clear intention otherwise? No such indication has been found. The comments in the Senate Committee report (report No. 861, 79th Congress, 1st Session) on Section 7 of the International Organizations Immunities Act are not impressive on this score. Although the Committee used the expression “representatives of foreign governments therein” in referring to the persons covered by Section 7, it must be pointed out that these comments are very summary, that the usual case would be that of a representative of a foreign government a member of the organization concerned, and that the committee did not discuss the specific case of representatives of foreign governments not members of the international organization but coming to that organization on official business. Moreover, it appears from the report that the committee considered the Act “available to meet the needs of the United Nations Organization, the headquarters of which will in all probability be established in the United States” and that although the establishment of the headquarters of the Organization in this country might require a special agreement governing matters beyond the scope of the Act, that, nevertheless, “all of the privileges and immunities provided for in this bill will have to be extended in any event to the United Nations Organization”.

Representatives of a foreign government coming to the United Nations Organization pursuant to the provisions of Articles 32 or 35 of the Charter4 are on official business as much as any representative of a foreign government which may be a member of the organization and it is not evident in law or reason why an invidious distinction should be made between such persons. It may well be that in some instances the foreign government’s not being a member of the UNO is contrary to its wishes and those of this government also.

It was precisely because Congress considered that the existing types of visas provided for by Section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1924 [Page 51] were not suitable for representatives of foreign governments to international organizations functioning in the United States that it set up a new category, 3 (7), and it is believed that such representatives should not be classified otherwise unless it is evident that Congress so intended or that the interests of the United States would be protected thereby.

It having been concluded that the representatives of Indonesia are entitled to Section 3 (7) visas, it is unnecessary to consider whether under certain circumstances they might be entitled to Section 3 (1) visas.

  1. Indonesia was not admitted to membership in the United Nations until September 28, 1950, although it had an observer delegation at Lake Success before that date.
  2. For the Immigration Act of 1924, see 43 Stat. 153, Section 3, carrying the caption “Definition of ‘Immigrant,’” read as follows:

    “When used in this Act the term ‘immigrant’ means any alien departing from any place outside the United States destined for the United States, except (1) a government official, his family, attendants, servants, and employees, (2) an alien visiting the United States temporarily as a tourist or temporarily for business or pleasure, (3) an alien in continuous transit through the United States, (4) an alien lawfully admitted to the United States who later goes in transit from one part of the United States to another through foreign contiguous territory, (5) a bona fide alien seaman serving as such on a vessel arriving at a port of the United States and seeking to enter temporarily the United States solely in the pursuit of his calling as a seaman, and (6) an alien entitled to enter the United States solely to carry on trade under and in pursuance of the provisions of a present existing treaty of commerce and navigation.”

  3. 59 Stat. 672.
  4. The Charter of the United Nations was signed at San Francisco, June 26, 1945. For text, see 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031 or Department of State Treaty Series No. 993.