L/UNA Files, Lot 62 D 205, “Passports; Procedures & Standards”2

The Comptroller General of the United States (Warren) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Reference is made to letter of October 27, 19503 (L/A) from the Deputy Under Secretary, requesting a decision as to whether there exists any fiscal impediment to the issuance of a passport visa without charge to a non-immigrant temporary visitor who comes within category 3, (4), or (5) of section 11 of the Headquarters Site Agreement between the United States and the United Nations, and who is not restricted to the Headquarters District and immediate vicinity in accordance with section 13(e) of that Agreement.

Section 11 of the agreement referred to, as set forth in Joint Resolution of the Congress, Public Law 357, approved August 4, 1947, 61 Stat. 756, entitled “Agreement Between the United Nations and United States of America Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations” provides in pertinent part as follows:

“The federal, state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of … (3) representations of the press, or of radio, film or other information agencies, who have been accredited by the United Nations (or by such a specialized agency) in its discretion after consultation with the United States, (4) representatives of nongovernmental organizations recognized by the United Nations for the purpose of consultation under Article 71 of the Charter, or (5) other persons invited to the headquarters district by the United Nations or by such specialized agency on official business …”4

Section 13(a) and 13 (e) provide that:

“(a) Laws and regulations in force in the United States regarding the entry of aliens shall not be applied in such manner as to interfere [Page 47] with the privileges referred to in Section 11. When visas are required for persons referred to in that Section, they shall be granted without charge and as promptly as possible.5

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“(e) The Secretary-General shall, at the request of the appropriate American authorities, enter into discussions with such authorities, with a view to making arrangements for registering the arrival and departure of persons who have been granted visas valid only for transit to and from the headquarters district and sojourn therein and in its immediate vicinity.”

As to the instant matter it is stated that it is the opinion of your Department that, under the terms of the Headquarters Agreement, the United States is committed to issue visas without charge to persons coming within the categories listed in section 11, supra, thus enabling such persons to apply to the American Immigration and Naturalization authorities for admission into the United States for the duration of their status with the United Nations.

Section 11 of the Headquarters Site Agreement, quoted above, by its terms is for application to transit from and to the United Nations Headquarters District. Section 13(a) of the Agreement, also quoted above, specifically refers to “the privileges referred to in section 11.” This Office concurs in the views expressed in the next to the last paragraph of your letter to the effect that collection of visa fees is not to be made from the persons in categories listed in section 11 who are to be limited in transit to the United Nations Headquarters District and to its immediate vicinity. Likewise, it reasonably may be concluded—from the fact that restrictive visas may, but need not, be issued—that a visa issued for the purpose of transit to the United Nations Headquarters Site, but not restricted as contemplated in section 13(e), would be for the purpose of exercising a privilege referred to in section 11 and would fall within the provision of section 13(a). If the visa is bona fide for the purpose of transit to the United Nations Headquarters District, the question as to whether in a given case a restriction should be incorporated therein is a matter for the decision of your Department.

Accordingly, it may be said that this Office would not be required to object to the issuance without charge of passport visas for transit to the United Nations Headquarters Site to persons in the categories referred to in your letter merely because said visas were not restricted as they might be pursuant to section 13(e) of the Headquarters Site Agreement.

Sincerely yours,

Lindsay C. Warren
  1. The L/UNA files are the working files of the Ofläce of the Assistant Legal Adviser for United Nations Affairs, and are organized on an alphabetical subject basis. Documents in this compilation which carry the sole caption “L/UNA Files” are located in a folder entitled “Hdqtrs Agreement: Immigration (McCarran Act; Int. Sec. Act; Visas), Sec. 11 (secept 11 (4))—Sec. 14.”
  2. Not printed.
  3. Omission indicated in the source text.
  4. The following omission indicated in the source text.