Who can join AFSA?
AFSA is the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit, which encompasses all Foreign Service employees of State, USAID, FCS, FAS, APHIS and USAGM, as defined by the 1980 Foreign Service Act. The Foreign Service is unique in that employees move in and out of the bargaining unit based on the position in which they are serving. AFSA membership is available to all Foreign Service members regardless of whether or not it is a part of the bargaining unit. The following positions are outside of the bargaining unit: employees currently serving in positions designated as "management officials" or "confidential employees are excluded from the bargaining unit, as are employees engaged in personnel work (in other than a purely clerical capacity) and those assigned to carry out functions of the Office of the Inspector General. In practical terms, this means that those excluded are Foreign Service members serving as chief of mission, deputy chief of mission, management counselors or management officers, human resources officers, Regional Security Officers and Office Management Specialists who work in the front office or for a management counselor. However, there may be exceptions to these guidelines, so members should contact AFSA headquarters if questions arise as to whether a specific employee is in the bargaining unit. Please bear in mind that non-bargaining unit employees can still be regular AFSA members.
Do I have to be a tenured member to join AFSA?
No, AFSA welcomes all incoming Foreign Service personnel as regular, voting members of the association.
Can Consular Fellows join AFSA?
Yes, Consular Fellows are welcome to join AFSA as regular members.
Can EFMs Join AFSA?
Eligible Family Members can join AFSA as associate members unless they are members of the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC), in which case they may join as regular members.
Who is a bargaining unit member?
AFSA is the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit, which encompasses all Foreign Service employees of State, USAID, FCS, FAS, APHIS and USAGM, as defined by the 1980 Foreign Service Act, with the following exceptions: Employees currently serving in positions designated as "management officials" or "confidential employees" are excluded from the bargaining unit, as are employees engaged in personnel work (in other than a purely clerical capacity) and those assigned to carry out functions of the Office of the Inspector General. In practical terms, this means that those excluded are Foreign Service members serving as chief of mission, deputy chief of mission, management counselors or management officers, human resources officers, Regional Security Officers and Office Management Specialists who work in the front office or for a management counselor. However, there may be exceptions to these guidelines, so members should contact AFSA headquarters if questions arise as to whether a specific employee is in the bargaining unit. In addition, please bear in mind that non-bargaining unit employees can still be regular AFSA members.
Can AFSA still provide guidance if I’m not in the bargaining unit?
Yes, AFSA frequently provides guidance to senior executive officers, members in the Office of the Inspector General’s office, confidential employees and employees engaged in personnel work.
How do I pay my membership dues?
- Annually: You will receive an annual invoice which can be paid via check or credit card. (Associate members only have this option.)
- Payroll deductions: Active-duty Foreign Service members can pay via direct payroll deductions.
- Annuity deductions: Retired Foreign Service members can pay via monthly annuity deductions.
How do payroll deductions work?
AFSA members who are active-duty Foreign Service employees are eligible to pay membership dues via payroll deductions; biweekly deductions which are directly withdrawn from your paycheck. To sign up for payroll deductions, click here.
How do annuity deductions work?
Once a month, your AFSA membership fee will be directly deducted from your annuity. Click here for the form.
What are the dues rates for active-duty and retired Foreign Service members?
The annual and deduction dues rates can be found by clicking here.
I left the Foreign Service before becoming pension-eligible. Can I still join AFSA?
Absolutely! Such individuals are welcome to join AFSA as retiree members.
What do I need to know about associate membership?
We welcome anyone with an interest in the Foreign Service or diplomacy to join AFSA as an associate member. Note that as per the AFSA bylaws, article III section 3, all applications for associate membership must be approved by the AFSA Governing Board. All those applying for AFSA associate membership will be asked to provide a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) about why they wish to join the association. Click here to learn more about associate membership.
Why pay via payroll or annuity deductions instead of an annual check or credit card payment?
Members signed up for payroll or annuity deductions are far less likely to have their membership lapse. Your deductions will continue through your career and no additional action is necessary to keep your membership current. Over ninety percent of AFSA active-duty members pay via payroll deductions.
I paid for an annual membership but am retiring or have decided to cancel my membership before the end of that 12-month period. Do I get a refund of membership dues for the remaining time?
No. AFSA does not refund membership payments in such cases. You may want to consider utilizing the payroll/annuity deductions option. It is more flexible, as membership can be canceled at any time.
Why did my AFSA membership lapse when I retired and how do I re-join?
For members paying AFSA dues through payroll deductions, your AFSA membership will lapse when you retire as AFSA will no longer be receiving AFSA dues. However, it is easy to re-join AFSA as a retiree member and dues can be deducted from your annuity by completing this form and returning it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Retiree membership can also be paid annually online.
What do I do if the online membership enrollment form did not go through?
If you signed up for membership online and are not sure it worked, email us at email@example.com.
How do I log in to the web site?
Click here to log in. AFSA members do not need to create a new account or register, only log in on the right side of the webpage. All members have existing accounts and can log in immediately. To log in for the first time, use your primary email address (.gov for active duty and personal email for retirees) as your username. Use your last name in all lowercase letters as your password. You will be directed to update your password after you log in.
Are AFSA membership dues tax-deductible?
AFSA membership dues are tax-deductible as a business expense for active-duty employees, subject to the usual 2-percent threshold of Adjusted Gross Income for itemized deductions.
Do you really need my SSN?
In order to process your payroll or annuity deductions, we do need the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you are not comfortable providing it via mail or email, you can always call us at (202) 338-4045, ext. 510.
Why did my membership lapse?
Members who pay their dues annually via check or credit card and do not renew within 30 days of their expiration date are considered a lapsed member. The most common reason for a lapsed membership is that we never received an address update and have been sending your membership invoice to an outdated address
As a new member, when should I begin receiving benefits?
If you joined with your incoming class during orientation, then all your AFSA member benefits begin immediately. You will regularly receive AFSA emails including our daily media digest, invitations to events, advocacy updates, and notices from the AFSA President. You will also receive The Foreign Service Journal on or around the first week of the month. You can contact AFSA Labor Management with any questions or guidance. (Please note, if you joined AFSA after your orientation, there is a 6-month waiting period to access Labor Management legal guidance).
I joined AFSA along with my incoming class more than a month ago, but payroll deductions have not taken effect. Why not?
Signing up with your incoming class gives you two months of free membership. We do not send in your request for payroll deduction until the two months have passed, giving you two free months on us.
I'm part of a tandem couple; do both of us need to pay membership dues?
Yes. In order to ensure that we can provide you with top legal guidance, personal assistance with travel vouchers, medical clearances and disciplinary actions, we rely on the full support of all members. Additionally, AFSA advocates for all its members collectively on assignments, promotions, travel regulations and other conditions of employment. Membership dues are collected to ensure that we can provide the services you expect, in the event that you need us.
Can I purchase a lifetime membership?
The lifetime membership option was suspended in 2011 and is not currently available.
How do I find out my membership number?
Your membership number can be found on the mailing label of The Foreign Service Journal, above your name. Alternatively, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do I need my membership number?
In order to take advantage of some membership benefits, you may be asked to provide your member number. AFSA Scholarship applications also require a member number.
How do I update my mailing address?
Simply fill out our online Address Change request form.
Why does AFSA prefer to use the diplomatic pouch for overseas mailing?
As the union for Foreign Service employees at each of the foreign affairs agencies, AFSA has negotiated collective bargaining agreements. These agreements give AFSA the right to use the diplomatic pouch free of charge for delivering union-related material. Using the diplomatic pouch keeps our costs down and thus your dues.
Why does AFSA prefer residential addresses as opposed to internal agency addresses for those working domestically?
The Department of Labor requires that we use the last known home address when mailing ballots and election-related material to members during our biennial AFSA Governing Board elections.
How do I cancel my AFSA membership?
We hate to see you go, but we make it easy. To cancel your membership, please send an email to us at email@example.com. We will provide you with the necessary forms and/or next steps. Please note that AFSA can only stop payroll deductions for AFSA dues once we are notified by a member of the request to cancel and have received the cancellation form. Payroll may take up to two pay periods to make the cancellation effective. AFSA is not responsible for refunds for membership if a member failed to notify us of a cancellation.
I haven’t received The Foreign Service Journal for months. Where is it?
If you notice that the Journal is not being delivered, then that usually means we do not know where you are. Please update your address every time you move, no matter how brief the move may be.
Can I discontinue delivery of the FSJ if I prefer to read it online?
Yes. To cancel your print subscription, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.