The Family Liaison Office (FLO) established the Global Employment Initiative (GEI) to help family members with career development and exploration of employment opportunities while posted overseas. The program employs Global Employment Advisors (GEAs) to provide on-site job coaching sessions, training workshops, and career development services at no cost to family members. They also offer networking assistance, information regarding volunteer projects, and support family members’ efforts to engage in the local economy.

For additional information or to contact the GEA covering your post, please send an email to

GEI services overseas are divided into two categories:

  • In-Country GEI Offices are located within the U.S. mission and are represented by a full-time or part-time Global Employment Advisor (GEA). GEAs provide regular program services on-site, including local economy networking assistance, resume and interviewing assistance, and career development counseling to the family members of USG employees assigned to these U.S. missions.
  • Regional GEI Services are extended to areas where the relative size of the U.S. missions, the opportunities for local economy employment, cultural, and geographic characteristics are similar. Regional GEAs provide regular program services to family members at U.S. missions remotely (via email and phone) and provide a designated number of on-site visits throughout the year.

Important issues to keep in mind regarding employment on the local economy:

  • Chief of Mission approval - Any family member who accepts a position on the local economy must obtain a work permit (where applicable) and notify and receive approval from the Chief of Mission before they can start work.
  • Cultural awareness - Different countries have different behavioral customs, dress codes, and hierarchical dynamics in the workplace. Individual countries even have different resume requirements. Family members should be aware of the cultural "norms" before sending out their resumes and scheduling interviews.
  • Language requirements - Jobs on the local economy in your host country may require family members to speak, read and/or write in the local language.
  • Local salary levels - In many countries, local salaries are lower than U.S. salaries. Family members should consider this before they search for jobs outside the Mission.
  • Local taxes - Family members might be required to pay local taxes.
  • Security concerns - Family members should consider safety of their environment and take proper precautions (e.g. if safety is an issue when commuting to work it might not be wise to work on the local economy).

Work Permits: Bilateral Work Agreements and De Facto Arrangements

Foreign Service family members seeking employment on the local economy overseas need to be aware of the work permit regulations in their host country. Eligible family members (EFMs) can apply for a work permit upon arrival at post and HR will assist with the application process. Under a bilateral work agreement (BWA), EFMs do not need to have an offer of employment first. However, requirements for work permits may vary based upon the specific BWA with the country of assignment. Visit FLO's Bilateral Work Agreements page for more information.

In countries where bilateral work agreements do not exist, family members may still be able to obtain work permits. Unlike BWAs, de facto arrangements are not official treaties and are subject to change at any time. Under de facto arrangements, EFMs are typically required to have an offer of employment prior to requesting a work permit and there may be some restrictions on the permitted fields of employment.

This material is specific to Foreign Service employees and their families.