HNCO: Handling coordination with host nation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Through deployments and temporary duties, part of being in the military involves traveling to foreign countries. The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Host Nation Coordination Office at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, provides the link between the Defense Department and the United Arab Emirates.

HNCO coordinates administrative actions between the General Headquarters United Arab Emirates and all U.S. forces within the United Arab Emirates.

“We provide liaison support for U.S. military, their dependents, and DoD civilians with multiple (United Arab Emirates) agencies to include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship on issues related to immigration, customs, passports and visas,” said Senior Master Sgt. Margarita Jimenez, 380th AEW HNCO superintendent. “We provide liaises with the U.S. Embassy and advise the AEW and mission partners on political and military matters.”

The HNCO is widely known for providing official passport and visa services, such as processing applications for tourist passports, however, they bring other services to Al Dhafra Air Base as well.

“HNCO facilitates immigration/emigration (entry and exit) for those with official passports and visas with the Al Dhafra Immigration Office,” said Jimenez. “We do translation work and provide the vital link between the AEW and the host nation. We also facilitate UAE residency and service everyone going on any form of leave and temporary duty. If the host nation is involved or impacted by our missions here, then HNCO should be involved in the planning stages to ensure we are good guests here on Al Dhafra.”

There are three military and seven cultural advisor contractors in the HNCO. The military consists of the director, the passport agent, and immigration official. There are four contractors working in the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, Expeditionary Contracting Squadron, Expeditionary Medical Group, and Expeditionary Operations Group and three working in the HNCO office.

“The cultural advisors assist in navigating through the (United Arab Emirates) processes and provide translation services,” Jimenez said. “They are essential to the success of the HNCO and to the AEW mission.”

Whenever members come into ADAB, HNCO is there to verify their travel credentials.

“When individuals are coming in, we make sure they have their official passport and (United Arab Emirates) visa,” said Staff Sgt. Samantha Rak, 380th AEW/HNCO immigrations technician. “If, for whatever reason, they do not, we make sure that they understand that according to the Foreign Clearance Guide, they are not authorized to go off base without the aforementioned required credentials.”

Members must have an official passport, five-year multi-entry visa, and immigration (entry) stamp to be off base.

“These requirements are not (U.S. Air Force) requirements but are based on (United Arab Emirates) immigration law and it is not about going off base, it is about being in another country legally,” Jimenez added. “The host nation requires everyone that is in the community to be fully immigrated. That is one of the reasons it is so safe in the (United Arab Emirates).”