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Diplomacy in Action

Adding Spouses or Same-Sex Domestic Partners to Orders


 

Checklists for Foreign Service Employees

Before you and your spouse/partner can take advantage of all that the Foreign Service lifestyle has to offer, you will first need to follow a number of Department of State procedures to add your spouse or partner to your orders. Five scenarios are covered below.

Scenario One: American Foreign Service Employee Marries American or non-American Spouse

Amending the Orders: To have your spouse added to your orders, you need to send your HR Assignment Technician an updated Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126), an original copy of the marriage certificate, and a medical clearance. As soon as the HR Assignment Technician receives all these necessary documents, he/she can amend the orders. In addition, please note procedures outlined in 3 FAM 4190 – Marriage Requirements of an Employee to a Foreign National or to a U.S. Citizen and 12 FAM 275 – Reporting Cohabitation with and/or Intent to Marry a Foreign National (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/88344.pdf) or contact HR/CDA.

The Medical Examination: Your spouse must have a medical clearance. Medical Clearance Form DS-1843 (and DS-1622 for children under 12, if you are also adding children to your orders) must be filled out and submitted to the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. Phone 202-663-1779. Please note: MED cannot process either of these forms, nor can you make an appointment in MED's exam clinic until Human Resources submits your FS Residence and Dependent Report (OF-126) to Medical Records. The medical examination must be performed in the Office of Medical Services Exam Clinic in Washington, D.C.; however, if you live more than 50 miles from Washington, D.C., you may use a private physician. To use a private physician, you must obtain written authorization (DS-3069) from M/MED or the Health Unit at post.

Tourist Passports: If your spouse is an American citizen, passport and visa applications can be processed through the nearest Passport Office. You can apply for a tourist passport at the same time that you apply for your diplomatic passport (see below).

Diplomatic Passports: Diplomatic passports are only issued to American citizens. If your spouse is an American citizen, after he/she is on your orders, the HR Assignment Technician will send the Request for Passport Services (DS-1640) to the Department of State Passport Office. Your spouse must then fill out a passport application. The spouse will also need to present proof of citizenship and photos. Please see the State Department’s Consular Affairs intranet site, under passports and customer service or email ca-ppt-sia-passports@state.gov.

Foreign-born spouses holding non-U.S. passports: If your new spouse is not an American citizen, please contact the Department of State Passport Office (located in the Harry S Truman Building, Room 1252) to inquire about securing an entry visa for your post of assignment. Limited assistance may be available. If you are currently residing overseas, check with your Consular Section for procedures for securing visas for a foreign passport. Passport Services, Special Issuance Agency, will assist non-US citizen family members of Foreign Service personnel who are on assignment or preparing for assignment abroad. If a visa is required for the country of assignment and the spouse applies simultaneously with the employee on official assignment orders, his/her passport will be forwarded to the appropriate embassy/embassies for the required visas, together with that of the employee. The Department of State cannot control whether another embassy levies fees, requires additional paperwork, etc.; however, we will communicate such information to the spouse. If the spouse is not leaving the United States at the same time as the employee, he/she may still request assistance from the Special Issuance Agency. The spouse should be sure to keep copies of the travel orders and the employee's passport and visa pages. The spouse should provide the Agency with current contact information for the employee. If the spouse uses a different last name from that of the employee, he/she should provide the Agency with a copy of a valid marriage license.

Security clearance: The spouse does not need a security clearance to be added to the employee's orders.

Health Insurance: If you have "self only" enrollment and you marry, you must complete a new Health Benefits Election Form (SF-2809) within 60 days after the event to add your new spouse. If you are not enrolled, you must wait until the annual open season to enroll both yourself and your spouse.

Your New Spouse and Travel: Once the spouse is added to the orders, he/she can purchase an airline ticket to travel to post, which will be paid by the USG. Contact American Express at 703-812-8331 or 1-800-847-0242 for reservation and ticket. The new spouse is authorized 200 lbs. Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) and can add personal effects to the officer's Household Effects (HHE) and storage allowance, as long as the total of the storage and the 7200 lbs. HHE shipped to post is not over 18,000 lbs.

Scenario Two: American Foreign Service Employee Marries Foreign-Born Locally Engaged Staff (LES)

Refer to Scenario One. In addition, please note procedures outlined in 3 FAM 4190 – Marriage Requirements of an Employee to a Foreign National or to a U.S. Citizen (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/85121.pdf) and 12 FAM 275 – Reporting Cohabitation with and/or Intent to Marry a Foreign National (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/88344.pdf) or contact HR/CDA.

Scenario Three: American Foreign Service Employee Partners with Same-Sex American or non-American

Amending the Orders: To add your same-sex domestic partner to your orders, you will need to provide your HR Assignment Technician with an updated Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126), a completed affidavit Pursuant to Declaring Domestic Partner Relationship (DS-7669 ), and a medical clearance. The DS-7669 affidavit should be submitted to the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources, Office of the Executive Director, Assignment Support Unit (HR/EX/ASU). As soon as your HR Assignment Technician has all of these documents, he/she can process your orders. Guidance can be found at 3 FAM 1600. In addition, if your partner is not a U.S. citizen, please note procedures outlined in 12 FAM 275 – Reporting Cohabitation with and/or Intent to Marry a Foreign National (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/88344.pdf) or contact HR/CDA.

The Medical Examination: Your partner must have a medical clearance. Medical Clearance Form DS-1843 (and DS-1622 for children under 12, if you are also adding children to your orders) must be filled out and submitted to the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. (Phone: 202-663-1779). Please note: MED cannot process either of these forms, nor can you make an appointment in MED's exam clinic until Human Resources submits your FS Residence and Dependent Report (OF-126) to Medical Records. The medical examination must be performed in the Office of Medical Services Exam Clinic in Washington, D.C.; however, if you live more than 50 miles from Washington, D.C., you may use a private physician. To use a private physician, you must obtain written authorization (DS-3069) from M/MED or the Health Unit at post.

Tourist Passports: If your partner is an American citizen, passport and visa applications can be processed through the nearest Passport Office. You can apply for a tourist passport at the same time that you apply for your diplomatic passport (see below).

Diplomatic Passports: Diplomatic passports are only issued to American citizens. If your partner is an American citizen, after he/she is on your orders, the HR Assignment Technician will send the Request for Passport Services (DS-1640) to the Department of State Passport Office. Your partner must then fill out a passport application. The partner will also need to present proof of citizenship and photos. Please see the State Department’s Consular Affairs intranet site, under passports and customer service or email ca-ppt-sia-passports@state.gov. As of June 19, 2009, the Department of State extended the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to declared same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service sent to serve abroad (3 FAM 1610). The Department also will work with foreign governments to provide same-sex domestic partners, to the extent possible, with diplomatic visas, privileges and immunities, and authorization to work on the local economy. If a foreign government denies a diplomatic visa to a domestic partner, the Department will authorize Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (ISMA) for the employee, to help defray the cost of maintaining a separate household during that assignment (Department of State Regulation (DSSR) 264.2).

Foreign-born partners holding non-U.S. passports: If your new partner is not an American citizen, he/she may be able to enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa. In February, 2011, the Department designated the Bureau of Human Resources as an Exchange Visitor Program (J-1 visa) sponsor for a government visitor program under which non-US-citizen same-sex domestic partners (SSDP) of members of the Foreign Service may be eligible to come to the United States during their partners' domestic assignments. The Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources (HR/CDA) will administer the program. Under this program, an eligible SSDP will enter the U.S. on a J-1 visa. To apply for a J-1 visa, the SSDP must first obtain a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. To obtain Form DS-2019, the Foreign Service employee must request an application form by email from the Responsible Officer in HR/CDA and return it along with a copy of Form DS-7669, Affidavit Pursuant to Declaring Domestic Partner Relationship, to the Responsible Officer (scanned copy is sufficient). The application must confirm that the SSDP carries appropriate health insurance (see paragraph 11). Upon receipt of the required documents and confirmation of eligibility, HR/CDA will issue a Form DS-2019 through SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) and send it via FEDEX to the SSDP participant. The SSDP must provide Form DS-2019, along with other required visa application forms, when applying for the J-1 visa. Unmarried dependent children under the age of 21 of an eligible non-U.S.-citizen SSDP may apply for a J-2 visa. Other adult dependents are not eligible under this program but may apply for other visas, depending on their purpose of travel. U.S.-
citizen dependents do not need visas.

Security clearance: The partner does not need a security clearance to be added to the employee's orders.

Health Insurance: A domestic partner is not eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program; however, employees may be able to obtain insurance for their domestic partners through the American Foreign Service Protective Association (AFSPA). For information, visit AFSPA’s website at www.afspa.org or call (202) 833-4910. For insurance providers please, visit the FLO web pages on Members of Household here: http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c23137.htm.

As of July 1, 2010, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has added same-sex domestic partners to the list of qualified relatives eligible to apply for coverage under the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP). For more information, please visit www.ltcfeds.com or call 1-800-LTC-FEDS (1-800-582-3337), TTY 1-800-843-3557 for assistance.

Gays and Lesbians in the Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) also has information, and links on a range of topics for same-sex partners. For more information, visit the GLIFAA website at http://www.glifaa.org/.

Your Partner and Travel: Once your partner is added to your orders, he/she can purchase an airline ticket to travel to post, which will be paid by the USG. Contact American Express at 703-812-8331 OR 1-800-847 0242 for reservation and ticket. The new partner is authorized 200 lbs. Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) and can add personal effects to the officer's Household Effects (HHE) and storage allowance, as long as the total of the storage and the 7200 lbs. HHE shipped to post is not over 18,000 lbs.

Scenario Four: American Foreign Service Employee Partners with Locally Engaged Staff (LES)

Refer to Scenario Three.

Scenario Five: American Foreign Service Employee Marries or Partners with American Foreign Service Employee (Tandem Employees)

Tandem Status: When a Department of State Foreign Service employee marries, or partners with another Department of State Foreign Service employee, the couple is considered a "tandem." Each employee is independent of the other, i.e., each member of a tandem couple maintains his/her own separate orders and entitlements (except housing). Married "tandems" are entitled to only one residence while serving overseas. In this scenario, each employee fills out his/her own Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126) and indicates that he/she is part of a tandem couple, listing his/her "tandem" spouse/partner. This information is then entered into each employee's Employee Profile.

Leave without Pay: In the eventuality that one member of the tandem opts for Leave Without Pay (LWOP), the employee on LWOP is added to his/her spouse/partner's orders for that time period.

Health Insurance: If both spouses/partners are federal employees, one may enroll for "self and family" or each may enroll for "self only" which is more cost-effective if there are no dependent children to be covered. Check the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) intranet site for additional information.

Other Resources: The Bureau of Human Resources Office of Career Development and Assignments (HR/CDA) can provide detailed information for tandems.

Connecting with Spouse/Partner Programs

Family Liaison Office (FLO)

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) in Washington, D.C. can help direct your new spouse/partner to programs available in Washington, including employment advising, education and youth services, and help with personal concerns. FLO also handles the expeditious naturalization portfolio for Department of State foreign-born spouses.

Harry S Truman Building
2201 C Street, N.W., Room 1239
Washington, D.C.  20520
Tel: 202-647-1076, 1-800-440-0397
Fax: 202-647-1670
Email: flo@state.gov
Internet: www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo

FLO also is the home office for the Community Liaison Office (CLO) Program overseas. If you are currently at post, or heading to post, your new spouse/partner should check in with the CLO. For the name of your CLO, contact the Family Liaison Office.

Transition Center (Overseas Briefing Center / Transition Center Training)

The Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute offers the Overseas Briefing Center and the Transition Center Training. Both programs provide a variety of support to Foreign Service spouses/partners. For more information on course schedules and OBC hours of operation, visit their website: www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc.

National Foreign Affairs Training Center (NFATC)—SA-42
Foreign Service Institute: Transition Center and Overseas Briefing Center
Arlington, VA  22204
Tel: 703-302-7277
Internet: www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc

Employee Services Center (ESC)

The Employee Services Center (ESC) is the primary check-in and check-out point for all transferring and in-transit Foreign Service personnel. Employees should update their information with the ESC when adding a spouse/partner to their orders, specifically data related to:

  • Locator and Emergency Next of Kin Information;
  • Mail holding and forwarding;
  • Handling of death cases for both Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel, including notification of next of kin, and liaison between the Department and surviving families;
  • Next of Kin emergency notifications in support of crisis and Task Force Operations, and post evacuations.

For further information on post transfer check-in and check-out procedures, consultations, and other available services, see the ESC brochure Information for Foreign Service Personnel, located on the Department’s intranet site.

Employee Services Center
2201 C Street, NW, Room 1252
Washington, DC 20520
Tel: 202-647-3432 or 202-647-3433
Fax: 202-647-1429
Email: employeeservicescenter@state.gov

Office of Medical Services
Exam Clinic, SA-1
2401 E Street NW
Washington, DC 20522
Phone: (202) 663-1779

Passport Offices
Harry S Truman Building
Phone: (202) 485-8200
ca-ppt-sia-passports@state.gov.

Passport Special Issuance Agency
SA-17A, (South Entrance)
600 19th Street N.W., Suite 3.200
Washington, D.C. 20006
Phone: (202) 485-8200

The Associates of the American Foreign Service (AAFSW)

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) is a non-profit organization that represents Foreign Service spouses, employees and retirees. Founded in 1960, AAFSW is an independent advocate for its membership, giving members a stronger voice when working on common concerns, and a chance to enjoy shared interests. Visit their website at http://www.aafsw.org to connect to the Foreign-born Spouse Network, babysitting co-ops, Livelines e-group, and many other support programs for the Foreign Service community.

Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA)
GLIFAA serves as a support network and resource of information for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender employees and their families.
www.glifaa.org/home
glifaa@glifaa.org

THIS MATERIAL IS SPECIFIC TO FOREIGN SERVICE EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES

 

Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office


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