The Department of State assigns employees overseas whose households include not only spouses and dependent children, but also other individuals who are not on the employee’s travel orders and do not meet the definition of Eligible Family Member (EFM) as outlined in 14 FAM 511.3. Regulations governing Members of Household (MOHs) are found in 3 FAM 4180.
It is important for employees and others to understand that certain privileges and allowances which are extended to EFMs as defined by laws, regulations, and interpretations, often cannot be extended to those who are not on the employee’s travel orders. The Department of State Standardized Regulations DSSR 040 specifies those family members who are eligible to be placed on an employee’s orders.
Host Country Authority
The host government of the country to which the employee is posted may have its own policies, rules, and conditions for granting a diplomatic visa or resident status to the MOH. It is incumbent on the employee to advise post in advance and find out if there are any specific host country restrictions or additional conditions.
Members of Household must travel to post as tourists and must abide by the host country tourist visa laws. These laws often restrict the length of stay and do not provide for long-term residency in that country. The host country has the right to issue or deny a visa according to their laws. Some countries have provisions for MOHs of diplomats to remain in country long-term, but others do not. Contact the Human Resources Office at the post to which you intend to take an MOH and ask what host country restrictions or requirement for additional documentation may apply. HR at post may assist MOHs, upon request, in obtaining available residency permits and travel permits in accordance with local law. Remember that MOHs must be officially declared by the sponsoring employee to the Chief of Mission (COM) as part of his or her household and must be approved by the COM.
Overseas Work Permits
Members of Household (MOHs) are not covered by agreements negotiated between the Department of State and foreign countries. The specific terms of such agreements are negotiated with each country separately, and therefore, the specific wording and terms of individual agreements depend on such negotiations and the laws and regulations of the respective country. Members of Household who intend to work may ask the post Human Resources office about the procedures involved in securing a local work permit. Completion of paperwork and payment of associated fees are the responsibility of the Member of Household. If an employee is assigned overseas to a U.S. Mission and has an MOH accompanying him/her to post, the employee should contact the Family Liaison Office (FLO), including FLO’s Global Employment Initiative, for more information about overseas work possibilities.
The term “child” for the purposes of the education allowance is defined in the DSSR271 and DSSR040. Foreign Service employees often host nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or other relatives for a year abroad. It is important to understand that unless a child is on the employee’s orders, the child is NOT considered an Eligible Family Member (as defined by 14 FAM 511.3) and therefore, is not eligible for an educational allowance.
Travel to post and all other related travel (home leave/transfer/vacation) is not reimbursable by the U.S. Government for Members of Household who are accompanying Foreign Service employees on overseas assignments.
A person designated by the employee as a Member of Household may live in government housing with the employee or use embassy/consulate facilities, subject to compliance with applicable COM policies. Employees are responsible for the individuals living in their residences. Pursuant to 12 FAM 442, employees must report all cohabiting Foreign National MOHs to the Regional Security Officer and provide biographical data as may be necessary to conduct appropriate investigations.
Access to Embassy Services
Access to Community Liaison Office (CLO) Services
Post’s Community Liaison Office (CLO) Coordinator addresses quality of life issues through the CLO program, which provides a wide variety of services and resources aimed at maintaining morale within the mission community. Members of Household should be included in local CLO events and other post sponsored activities and programs as appropriate.
Access to Mission Health Unit
MOHs are not covered by the Foreign Service medical insurance program. However, the Health Unit may provide names of local physicians who can provide medical services. This kind of assistance from the Health Unit can be requested during the bidding process, to determine if a post has adequate local health care providers to meet the medical needs of a MOH.
Access to the Department of State’s OpenNet Plus Intranet and Internet
5 FAM 780 provides for individual access to OpenNet Plus (which includes the intranet) to Members of Household of U.S. Direct Hire employees assigned to Post. Access to OpenNet Plus is a privilege, not a right.
Evacuation from Post
During an authorized or ordered evacuation, MOHs are not entitled to paid evacuation travel or evacuation Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA) benefits. Members of Household are regarded as private U.S. citizens. Pursuant to 12 FAH 1 Annex K Addendum 1.3 (U), the “no double standard” policy requires private U.S. citizens be given the same evacuation opportunities/assistance as official Americans. It is Department of State policy to make available to private Americans any evacuation option planned for the official U.S. Government community, when appropriate and feasible.
Children Over Age 21 as MOH
Foreign Service Children at the Age of 21
Children retain the status of Eligible Family Member until they turn 21. Once a child turns 21, he/she can no longer remain on the parents’ orders and is considered an MOH. An adult child who is incapable of being independent due to special needs can remain on parents’ orders. See family member definitions in 14 FAM 511.3.
A Foreign Service child who marries before the age of 21 receives no benefit coverage in any category as a family member. Marriage confers adult status.
A family member who turns 21 is no longer eligible for allowances (except for educational travel up to the 23rd birthday, plus additional years allowed for any military service, per DSSR 280) or coverage under the health unit, for medical or emergency evacuations. For example, if the family member is still in undergraduate college in the U.S. (or affiliated “junior year abroad” program), the family member will continue to receive the educational travel allowance until he/she turns 23 or graduates from undergraduate studies. If the family member has served in the military, he/she would not have been considered a dependent during his/her military service and can extend his/her period of eligibility by the number of years of service, for educational travel allowances only, provided it is established that the family member would normally live with the employee/parent if not attending college. If the employee is assigned to the United States, the family member will not be included on orders for the next post.
When an employee is heading to a new post (on Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders), a child approaching the age of 21 may be included on the transfer orders; however, return travel to the U.S. can only be authorized if the child traveled to post under the transfer orders prior to reaching age 21 (14 FAM 532.3-2 ). Generally, the first Post Assignment Travel (formerly TMFour) order issued after the 21st birthday (whether home leave and return to post or transfer to a new post) would include the authorization for return travel to the employee’s service separation residence (from the employee’s most recent approved OF-126). If final travel back to the U.S. is needed earlier, advance travel in accordance with 14 FAM 532.3-6 may be requested.
Federal Health Insurance for Foreign Service Children over the Age of 22
Due to changes under the Health Care Reform/Affordable Care Act, and beginning January 1, 2011, children of Federal enrollees will be covered by their parent’s Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Self and Family enrollment until their 26th birthday (plus a 31-day temporary extension of coverage), even if the child previously lost coverage because he or she turned 22. Although married children are eligible for Federal Health Care Insurance until the age of 26, the married child’s spouse and/or child do not qualify. For more information, please visit the Office of Personnel Management’s Health Care Reform webpage.
The FEHB has a Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) program whereby a child can receive temporary continued health insurance benefits for an additional cost after regular coverage ends. To arrange TCC for a child, the employee must notify his or her employer within 60 days after the child reaches 26 years of age. The employee may then choose a plan (for which he or she is eligible), option, and type of enrollment. A SF-2809 form must be filed. The length of the TCC is available for up to 36 months after the change in status is reported. Persons eligible to participate in the FEHB TCC program must contact the Retirement Office at the Department of State to speak with the TCC Coordinator at (202) 261-8960. The Retirement Office will process the application, determine eligibility and certify the information. The employee and the child are responsible for the monthly payments.
Children of FEHB enrollees that are currently enrolled , may no longer need the TCC enrollment as they will be covered under the parent’s Self and Family enrollment. Once assured of coverage, the child may want to cancel the TCC. To cancel TCC, contact the National Finance Center at (800) 242-9630 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents as MOH
Bringing Parents to Post Who Are Not on Orders:
Parents may travel to post as Members of Household (MOH) but will receive minimal official support from the U.S. Government. MOH parents are responsible for acquiring their own visa for entry and residence in the host country. Upon request, the Human Resources Office at post may assist in the process in accordance with local laws. Some countries require additional documentation by the accredited employee and all countries hold the authority to approve or deny any visa. Furthermore, they do not have diplomatic status with the host country and are not entitled to access the U.S. embassy or consulate health units. However, the Health Unit may provide them with a list of referrals for local medical professionals. Finally, MOH parents are not eligible to receive airfare or allowance payments in the case of evacuation from post.
Medical Insurance and Air Medevac Insurance
It is essential that individuals not under the care of the U.S. Mission medical program have adequate medical insurance when living overseas. Please note that for parents Medicare only pays medical expenses in the United States and in Canada and Mexico under certain very limited circumstances.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs – individuals not on an employee’s orders should also maintain Air Medical Evacuation Insurance. A list of companies that provide this insurance can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website as well as other medical/health related information for international travelers.
The Family Liaison Office (FLO) resources do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any particular organizations by FLO or the Department of State.
U.S. Citizen Services Overseas, a part of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, provides information for U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad.
Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) has a variety of groups and programs.
Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) is an officially recognized organization that represents the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) personnel and their families.