About Us

About Us

Mission

Safety. Security. Service. Our highest priority is to protect the lives and interests of U.S. citizens overseas. We do this through routine and emergency services to Americans at our embassies and consulates around the world. We serve our fellow citizens during their most important moments – births, deaths, disasters, arrests, and medical emergencies. The Bureau of Consular Affairs formulates and implements policy relating to immigration and consular services and ensures responsive and efficient provision of consular services overseas.

Consular Affairs (CA) is the public face of the Department of State for millions of people around the world. CA is responsible for the welfare and protection of U.S. citizens abroad, for the issuance of passports and other documentation to citizens and nationals, and for the protection of U.S. border security and the facilitation of legitimate travel to the United States. CA also has a significant domestic presence, most notably the 29 U.S. Passport agencies and centers, 26 of which deal directly with the U.S. public. These far-reaching consular activities have broad foreign policy and domestic political implications and involve serious legal, humanitarian, and management concerns. Responsibility for these functions is vested within the Department of State in the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs and for their implementation abroad in consular officers assigned to embassies and consulates abroad. CA is also the Department’s largest Bureau in terms of domestic personnel and is almost entirely funded through revenue generated by consular fees. This revenue totaled $4.16 billion in 2015, making CA the equivalent of a Fortune 600 company.

For more information, please view our CA Fact Sheet.

ALL / ALL /

U.S. Passports

A U.S. passport is your ticket to international travel. The U.S. passport is a request to foreign governments to permit you to travel or temporarily reside in their territories and have access to lawful local aid and protection. The passport allows you access to U.S. consular services and assistance while abroad. Most importantly, it allows you to re-enter the United States upon your return home.

The Department of State issues U.S. passports to traveling U.S. citizens. We protect the integrity of the U.S. passport as proof of U.S. citizenship at home and around the world.

Passport Services consists of:

We also issue passports for U.S. citizens that apply at our embassies and consulates abroad.

Passport Statistics

If you are interested in passport statistics, please visit our Passport Statistics page for information on:

  • Passports issued each year,
  • Valid passports in circulation, and
  • Passports issued by state and territory.

Passport Services Mission Statement

The Department of State will issue secure travel documents to U.S. citizens while providing the highest level of customer service, professionalism, and integrity.

Service Standards

  • Provide service in a courteous, professional manner
  • Strive to meet your urgent travel needs
  • The right to speak with management if you are not satisfied with the service you have received
ALL / ALL /

Visa

The Office of Visa Services, in the Consular Affairs Bureau, Department of State provides various functions:

  • We serve as liaisons with the Department of Homeland Security
  • We serve as liaisons between the Department of State and U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad on visa matters
  • We interpret visa laws and regulations, and act as a point of contact for the public.

When to Contact Us vs. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Defining the different roles and responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State can be confusing. We hope this information will assist you:

Contact the Department of State - A U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad will be your resource for questions about U.S. visas, including the application process, the status of visa processing, and for inquiries relating to visa denial.

Visa Services, Public Inquiries can usually explain what aspects of immigration law and regulation are applicable in certain cases, and can also check the current status of a particular case, if processing has been delayed.

Contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) - The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the approval of all immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions, the authorization of permission to work in the United States, the issuance of extensions of stay, and change or adjustment of status while you are in the United States. Questions about these matters should be referred to DHS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

ALL / ALL /

International Travel

About Us

The protection of U.S. citizens overseas is one of the Department of State’s highest priorities. We provide information designed to help U.S. citizens stay safe abroad, and U.S. Embassies and Consulates also provide emergency and non-emergency services to overseas U.S. citizens around the world. 

We help U.S. citizens in the event of arrest, death, destitution, crisis, or medical emergency overseas. We respond to welfare and whereabouts inquiries, and deal with nationality and citizenship matters.

See also:

International Travel

ALL / ALL /

Intercountry Adoption

The Office of Children's Issues (CI), part of the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, plays an active role in the intercountry adoption process. In our work, we are dedicated to assisting parents as they seek to provide a home to orphans abroad.

We carry out the Department of State's responsibilities as the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Adoption Convention. The Office of Children's Issues is responsible for the day-to-day oversight and implementation of the Hague Adoption Convention in the United States.

Our Role

The Office of Children's Issues (CI), part of the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, plays an active role in the intercountry adoption process. In our work, we are dedicated to assisting parents as they seek to provide a home to orphans abroad.

We serve as the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Also known as the Hague Adoption Convention, this is an international treaty among over 90 nations around the world, including the United States. The Office of Children's Issues is responsible for the day-to-day oversight and implementation of the Convention in the United States.

We have 21 full-time employees that work in intercountry adoption. Some of our primary functions include:

  • Producing and maintaining country specific information about intercountry adoption;
  • Issuing Adoption Notices and Adoption Alerts to inform prospective adoptive parents about developments in a country;
  • Providing information about the adoption process to prospective adoptive parents, adoption service providers, and members of Congress;
  • Working with U.S. embassies and consulates on diplomatic efforts with host governments about adoption laws and procedures; and
  • Monitoring complaints against Hague accredited adoption service providers, and overseeing the work of designated accrediting entities.

 

ALL / ALL /

International Parental Child Abduction

The Department of State has no higher priority than to safeguard the welfare of U.S. citizens abroad, the most vulnerable of whom are children. We believe that a court in the country of a child’s habitual residence is, in most cases, best placed to make decisions on matters of custody and access.

Our Role

The Office of Children’s Issues serves as the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention (Convention), an international treaty that offers a civil remedy to resolve international parental child abduction cases.  In that capacity, the Office of Children’s Issues leads U.S. government efforts within the Department of State and with other U.S. government agencies to prevent international parental child abduction, assist children and families involved in these abduction cases, and promote the principles of the Convention.

If You Believe an Abduction is in Progress: 

If you believe your child is being abducted internationally by another family member and has not yet left the United States, you can call the Office of Children’s Issues at any time at 888-407-4747.

If Your Child Has Been Abducted Overseas, We Can:

  • Give you information about various resources that may assist you in pursuing the return of, or access to, your child,
  • Provide you with a list of attorneys in the country where your child is located,
  • Answer questions from local and federal law enforcement about the Department’s role in international parental child abduction cases, and
  • If your child has been abducted to or retained in a country that is a Convention partner country, regardless of you or your child’s citizenship or legal status, forward a completed Convention application, and monitor the case throughout the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

If Your Child Has Been Abducted Overseas, We Cannot:

  • Provide you with legal advice, recommend a specific course of action, or represent you in court,
  • Guarantee the return of, or access to, your child,
  • Take custody of your child,
  • Break any laws in the United States or in a foreign country,
  • Pay legal fees, court costs, or any other fees associated with court cases, or
  • Provide you with lodging.