The highest priority of the Bureau of Consular Affairs is to protect the lives and serve the interests of U.S. citizens abroad. Across the globe, we serve our fellow citizens during some of their most important moments – births, adoptions, medical emergencies, deaths, arrests, and disasters. We also help U.S. citizens connect with the world by issuing millions of U.S. passports each year.
We keep our country safe and help foreign nationals connect with the United States by issuing visas to qualified visitors, workers, and immigrants. Led by the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, our team is proud to be the public face of the Department of State, representing the best of U.S. values to millions of people around the world. We are here to serve you.
The consular corps of the United States dates back to the late 1700s, predating even the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Having served as Minister to France for five years, then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson was acutely aware of the need to protect the interests of American seamen in overseas ports. In 1792, Congress passed a law describing the powers and duties of a consul. This law, as amended, still serves as the basic charter for our consular work today. Over the years, the consular service expanded from postings in a handful of countries to representation around the world. In 1924, landmark legislation merged the consular and diplomatic services into the unified Foreign Service that exists today. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) was established in 1979.