printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Consular Service Centers


Consular Service Centers
Obtaining Approval for the Use of Private Entities to Perform Consular Services
Ongoing Operational Requirements


Consular Service Centers

The increased global demand for consular services is an issue many governments are currently facing, particularly demand associated with visa services. As a result, many countries, including the United States, have started using or are considering the use of privately contracted entities to assist with the provision of application services for the aforementioned documents.

Given the growing importance of such endeavors with respect to the efficient provision of application services globally, the Department has determined that it is important to establish terms and conditions associated with the provision of such services to foreign missions in the United States.

Thus, the Department has designated the provision of application services with respect to visas, passports, and similar documents by private entities on behalf of foreign missions in the United States a benefit under the Foreign Missions Act (22 U.S.C. 4301-4316, as amended). The Department has further determined that the provision of application services by private entities for foreign missions in the United States is subject to such terms and conditions as may be established by the Department’s Office of Foreign Missions (OFM).

The services provided by “Consular Service Centers” include, but are not limited to: appointment management, fee collection, document delivery, and collection of biometric data. Subject to reciprocity, or as otherwise determined to protect the interests of the United States, the Department reserves the right to impose conditions or restrictions on the manner in which specific foreign missions will be authorized to use private entities for application services in the United States.

Foreign missions are reminded that pursuant to §211(a) of the Foreign Missions Act (22 U.S.C. § 4311), it is unlawful for any person or entity to make available any benefits to a foreign mission that are contrary to requirements and determinations made under the Act. As a result, the United States has standing to bring or intervene in an action to obtain compliance with such requirements, including any action for injunctive or other equitable relief.


Obtaining Approval for the Use of Private Entities to Perform Consular Services

All foreign missions are required to request the Office of Foreign Missions’ (OFM) approval before using private entities to perform consular services on their behalf in the United States.

Requests shall be transmitted to OFM by diplomatic note by mail or courier to the Harry S Truman Building (2201 C Street, NW Room 2236) or electronically at OFMProperty@state.gov.

Such requests would include the information requested below:

1. A description of the application services the foreign mission wishes to secure;

2. Will the country represented by the foreign mission allow the U.S. Embassy to utilize the services of private entities to conduct application services on its behalf from facilities located in cities that host the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. consular post?

3. Will the country represented by the foreign mission allow the U.S. Embassy to utilize the services of private entities to conduct application services on its behalf from facilities located in cities that do not host the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. consular post?

4. Will the country represented by the foreign mission allow the U.S. Embassy to select freely and contract directly with a private entity for the types of services described above?

5. Will the country represented by the foreign mission allow the private entity with which the U.S. Embassy contracts for the provision of this service to select freely and hire employees of its own choosing? If not, please describe any applicable limitations.

6. Will the country represented by the foreign mission impose any other restrictions on the manner in which the Department of State selects or utilizes the services of a private entity to assist with the provision and conduct of application services by the U.S. Embassy and, if applicable, its consular posts? If yes, please describe these restrictions.

7. Will the country represented by the foreign mission consider any physical or electronic documents or data collected by a private entity on behalf of a diplomatic or consular mission to facilitate the adjudication, processing, or handling of requests for application services by the mission to be exempt from inspection or compelled disclosure by host government authorities?

Additionally, if known at the time that the request is transmitted, the following information is to be included:

• the name of the private entity that the foreign mission plans to use for application services;

• the federal tax identification number of the private entity that the foreign mission plans to use for application services;

• the physical address of the property (or properties) at which the private entity will provide application services;

• the primary mailing address of the private entity that the foreign mission plans to use for application services; and

• the name, title, and contact information of the representative of the private entity who is responsible for overseeing the provision of application services.

Within sixty (60) calendar days of OFM receiving a request and any additional supporting statements or documents that are separately determined to be necessary, the Department will provide the foreign mission with a written response.


Ongoing Operational Requirements

Once a foreign mission receives authorization from the Department to use a private entity to conduct consular services in the United States, the mission is required to transmit a diplomatic note to the Department which includes the information requested above, if not previously provided, within ten business days of selecting a service provider. Foreign missions are further required to notify the Department in writing within ten days of a change associated with any of the following:

• the service provider;

• the name, title, and contact information of the service provider’s representative;

• the service provider’s federal tax identification number;

• the physical address of the property at which application services are provided;

• the service provider’s primary mailing address; and

• the types of application services being provided.

Within sixty (60) calendar days of OFM receiving a notification of a change of the physical address of the property at which application services are being provided, the types of application services being provided, or any additional information that is determined by OFM to be necessary, the Department will provide the foreign mission with a written response.


Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.