Bureau of Consular Affairs

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Bureau of Consular Affairs
Bureau of Consular Affairs (U.S.) screenshot.jpg
Bureau overview
JurisdictionExecutive branch of the United States
HeadquartersHarry S. Truman Building, Washington, D.C., United States
Annual budget$3.48 billion (FY 2017)[1]
Bureau executive
Parent departmentU.S. State Department

The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is a bureau of the United States Department of State reporting to the under secretary of state for management. 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 2021, the bureau is headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Rena Bitter.


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 formed.[2]


The Bureau of Consular Affairs manages eight offices: the Offices of the Comptroller, Consular Systems & Technology, Executive Director, Fraud Prevention, Overseas Citizen Services, Policy Coordination & Public Affairs, Passport Services, and Visa Services.[3]

Office of Comptroller[edit]

The principal strategic and resource management office for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Office of Consular Systems & Technology[edit]

Develops, installs, and provides training for the Bureau's automated information processing systems.

Office of Executive Director[edit]

Provides a full range of management support for the Bureau, including management of the Bureau's IT systems and infrastructure, human resources, and controlled consular supplies.

Office of Fraud Prevention[edit]

Dedicated to providing resources, tools, and information that enhances consular officers' ability to detect and deter passport and visa fraud.

Office of Overseas Citizen Services[edit]

Advises and supports U.S. citizens and U.S. embassies and consulates around the world in such matters as:

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. The Bureau also maintains the volunteer Warden Program, designed to help protect and inform US citizens in host nations.

Office of Policy Coordination & Public Affairs[edit]

Articulates the Bureau's policy through media relations, public outreach, Congressional liaison, and strategic planning.

Office of Passport Services[edit]

Issues U.S. Passports to American citizens. Over 119 million valid U.S. passports are currently in circulation. 13.5 million passports and passport cards were issued in fiscal year 2013.

Since June 1, 2009, all American travelers entering the United States, including at land borders or air/sea ports of entry, are required to show proof of citizenship, which can include the passport book or passport card.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services is Rachel Arndt.

Passports may be issued domestically in the US as well as by US embassies or consulates abroad. In 2006, the Bureau began the widespread issuance of Electronic Passports or "e-passports."[4]

Visas Services Office[edit]

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 United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the United States Department of Homeland Security.

International child abduction and adoption[edit]

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.


  1. ^ "FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification - Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs" (PDF). U.S. Department of State. February 12, 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 12, 2018. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  2. ^ "Bureau of Consular Affairs History". AllGov. January 30, 2013.
  3. ^ "Organization". travel.state.gov. Archived from the original on November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  4. ^ "Media Note from the Office of the Spokesman, US Dept. of State, Washington, DC" (Press release). US Dept of State. August 14, 2006. Retrieved August 28, 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Keegan, Nicholas M. US Consular Representation in Britain Since 1790 (Anthem Press, 2018).

Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]