Bureau of Consular Affairs
|Bureau executives||Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management
|Parent department||U.S. State Department|
The Bureau of Consular Affairs is a bureau of the United States Department of State within that department's management office. The mission of the Bureau is to administer laws, formulate regulations and implement policies relating to the broad range of consular services and immigration. As of 2008[update], the bureau is headed by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Michele T. Bond.
The precursor to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs was created in 1952 upon passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The bureau was charged with issuing visas and passports, and extending visas for non-immigrants in the United States. For a temporary period of time in 1954, the bureau was known as the Bureau of Inspection, Security, and Consular Affairs. In 1979, the security functions were moved to an Office of Security, which later became the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the Bureau of Consular Affairs was born.
Issuance of U.S. Passports to American citizens is the responsibility of the Bureau. According to an official speech in May 2009, approximately 91 million Americans have valid US passports.
For fiscal year 2008, 16 million passport applications were processed by the bureau's staff of 11,000. New passport requirements which went into effect in January 2007, when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect, have increased estimated demand to 17 million in 2007, adding months of delay to processing applications.
June 1, 2009 all American travelers entering the United States at land borders or sea ports of entry will be required to show proof of citizenship. The new passport card is a cheaper alternative to comply with such regulations.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services is Brenda S. Sprague.
Passports may be issued domestically in the US as well as by US Embassies or Consulates abroad to the US Citizens. In 2006, the Bureau of Consular Affairs began the widespread issuance of Electronic Passports or "e-passports."
The Consular Affairs Office of Overseas Citizens Services advises and supports U.S. citizens and U.S. embassies and consulates around the world in such matters as:
- Citizenship and nationality (including both acquisition of citizenship through naturalization and the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 and renunciation of citizenship)
- Federal benefits
- Notarization of documents
- International child abduction
- International adoptions
To assist the traveling public, the bureau issues country specific information, travel warnings, and travel alerts concerning conditions in countries where Americans may be planning to visit or reside.
Visas and immigration
Following regulations established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), consular officers overseas, under the guidance of the Bureau's Office of Visa Services, are responsible for issuing all non-immigrant and immigrant visas. (Over 7.75 million non-immigrant visa and approximately 744,000 immigrant visa cases were processed in fiscal year 2006.)
The Bureau of Consular Affairs also administers the provisions of the INA as they relate to the Department of State in coordination with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security.
International child abduction and adoption
The Office of Children's Issues creates, develops and coordinates policies and programs on international child abduction and international adoption issues. In this respect, it is the US Central Authority under the terms of the Hague Abduction Convention and the Hague Adoption Convention.
- "Bureau of Consular Affairs History". AllGov. 2013-01-30.
- Reed, Bruce (2007-08-14). "The Passport Is In the Mail: One man's journey into the greatest bureaucracy ever assembled". Slate.
- "Media Note from the Office of the Spokesman, US Dept. of State, Washington, DC" (Press release). US Dept of State. August 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-28.
- Travel.state.gov, the Bureau of Consular Affairs website