2016 Hard-to-Fill Program for Professional Associates

The application period is offered once a year, usually in late April/early May. There is a short turn around (10-14 days) when applications must be submitted. Dates will be posted here when available.

The following are the general requirements and procedures for the program.


The regular FS assignments process invariably leaves some overseas positions without sufficient qualified Foreign Service bidders. These positions are designated Hard-To-Fill (HTF) and are opened to Department of State Civil Service employees and to Eligible Family Members (EFMs). Positions are announced by cable. EFMs may apply only for positions at the posts listed if their sponsoring employee is currently assigned there. They must commit to serve in the position for a minimum of one year.

Foreign Service direct-hire employees can continue to bid on these positions and receive priority in selection.

Qualified EFMs are given preference over equally qualified Civil Service employees. Veterans are given preference in the selection process.

(Note: the Professional Associates Program is different than the Expanded Professional Associates Program (EPAP). For more information about EPAP, click here.)

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for the PA program, applicants must be the EFM (defined in 3 FAM 8212 b) of a career government employee from any agency under Chief of Mission authority assigned to a full time position at an overseas post. Members of Household (MOH) and family members of contractors are not eligible. Additionally, applicants must be a U.S. citizen at the time of application, a high school graduate, at least 18 years of age, and qualified for the position.

Professional Associates Program Selection Process

HR/CDA convenes Qualifications Evaluation Panels (QEP) which review applications from EFMs and from Civil Service employees for relevant experience and skills, including foreign language proficiency if the position requires it. EFMs without supervisory experience will not be considered for positions with supervisory responsibilities. A representative from the Family Liaison Office (FLO) participates in the QEP as a non-voting member.

EFMs who are certified as qualified by the QEP are notified by the PA Coordinator and their application material is then forwarded to the regional bureaus for consideration for the vacancies for which they have applied. Selections are made by the bureaus. Qualified EFMs should contact the bureau EX Officer directly to express their interest and discuss their qualifications.

Upon Selection

Selected EFMs are required to have the appropriate security clearances for the posts of assignment prior to appointment. Professional Associates are appointed using the Family Member Appointment (FMA) mechanism. The regulations for FMAs are contained in 3 FAM 8200.

Salary is determined by a Human Resources Specialist with experience in setting Foreign Service salaries.

If required, training may be provided at NFATC.

There is no mechanism for the conversion of a Professional Associate to career Foreign Service. EFMs selected for a PA position should be aware that they will not be able to convert to the career Foreign Service at the end of a tour.

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office