Consular Affairs - Serving Citizens Around the World

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is often the public face of the U.S. Department of State. We assist the millions of U.S. citizens who travel abroad each year and issue U.S. passports. We also adjudicate U.S. visas for visitors and immigrants. We protect the U.S. border, in partnership with other national security agencies, ensuring that those who get passports and visas are entitled to them. We provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens at our embassies and consulates around the world.  We serve our fellow citizens during their most important moments, including births, deaths, disasters, arrests, and medical emergencies.

So what did we do in Fiscal Year 2016?

 We assisted U.S. citizens living or traveling overseas:

  • We processed more than 70,000 consular reports of births abroad.  Welcome to the world, little ones!
  • We issued more than 50,000 emergency U.S. passports overseas to replace travelers’ lost, stolen, or damaged ones.
  • We assisted the families of nearly 11,000 U.S. citizens who passed away while abroad.
  • We made more than 10,000 visits to U.S. citizens in foreign prisons.
  • We issued more than 2,000 emergency messages worldwide to provide U.S. citizens with up-to-date information.
  • We helped more than 1,200 U.S. citizens return to the United States after they encountered emergency situations abroad.

We helped U.S. citizens get their passports:

  • We issued more than 18.6 million passport books and cards.  There are currently 132 million U.S. passport books and cards in circulation.
  • Forty percent of U.S. citizens now have a passport, and that number is growing.  We anticipate receiving more than 20.5 million passport applications in 2017!

We helped grow the U.S. economy and unite families by issuing U.S. visas to eligible applicants:

  • We issued almost 10.4 million non-immigrant visas, including over 480,000 student visas and 340,000 exchange visitor visas.  International students contributed in excess of $35 billion to the U.S. economy.
  • We issued more than 617,000 immigrant visas.  Welcome to the United States to those new lawful permanent residents!

We protected the U.S. border:

  • Every day we work with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to detect and prevent U.S. passport and visa fraud and to safeguard national security.

Changes are coming in 2017 for Consular Affairs

We plan to roll out a brand new passport design, with enhanced security features to protect our borders and U.S. citizens traveling overseas.  We anticipate the implementation of online passport renewals and online appointment bookings for passport agencies nationwide in 2017.  We will continue to improve the way we communicate important safety and security information to U.S. citizens to help protect their lives and interests abroad.  Finally, the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security are working together to make the immigrant visa process paperless and more efficient with the new Modernized Immigrant Visa.

Here is to a great 2017!

About the Author: Michele Thoren Bond serves as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

For more information:

  • Learn more about our consular initiatives and resources for U.S. citizens overseas by visiting our website.
  • Follow @TravelGov and visit TravelGov Facebook page for specific updates from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
  • Read other DipNote blogs related to consular affairs at the State Department. 


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