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Adding a Family Member to your Orders

  • Before you and your spouse or child 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 child to your orders. For information on benefits available to Eligible Family Members (EFMs on the employee’s travel orders) or Members of Household (MOHs) please see GCLO’s EFM vs. MOH comparison chart for details. Other agencies should contact their Human Resources office for guidance.

Key Resources

  • The Employee Services Center (ESC) is the primary check-in and check-out point for all transferring and in-transit Foreign Service personnel and Civil Service personnel on LNA. Employees should update their information with the ESC when adding a spouse to their orders or when transferring to a new assignment. To update locator and emergency next of kin information please go to My Data Form 3064 – Foreign Service Emergency Locator Information form. For further information on post transfer check-in and check-out procedures, consultations, and other available services contact: Email: EmployeeServicesCenter@state.gov
  • Global Community Liaison Office (GCLO)  in Washington, DC can help direct your new spouse to programs available in Washington, including employment advising, education and youth services, and help with personal concerns. GCLO also handles the expeditious naturalization portfolio for Department of State foreign-born spouses. GCLO is also the home office for the Community Liaison Office (CLO) Program overseas.
  • The Transition Center  and Overseas Briefing Center located on the campus of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, VA provides security skills training, post-specific bidding materials and information, and retirement planning courses for the U.S. Government Foreign Affairs employees and family members assigned to diplomatic posts abroad.

The Medical Examination

  • Spouses on orders must have a medical clearance. Medical Clearance Form DS-1843 (and DS-1622 for children under 12, if adding children to orders) must be completed and submitted to the Bureau of Medical Services  in Washington, D.C. Please note: MED cannot process either of these forms, nor can the employee and/or spouse make an appointment in MED’s exam clinic until Human Resources submits the FS Residence and Dependent Report (OF-126) to Medical Records.

Passports

  • Tourist Passports: If the spouse is an American citizen, passport and visa applications can be processed through the nearest Passport Office. Applications for tourist passports may be submitted at the same time as diplomatic passports.
  • Diplomatic Passports : Diplomatic passports are only issued to American citizens. If the spouse is an American citizen, after they are added to official travel orders, the HR Assignment Technician will send the Request for Passport Services (DS-1640) to the Department of State Passport Office. The spouse must then complete a passport application. They will also need to present proof of citizenship and photos. Please see the Department of State’s Consular Affairs intranet site, under Passports and Customer Service or email CA-PPT-SIA-Passports@state.gov. The Department will also work with foreign governments to provide a same-sex spouse, 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 same sex spouse, the Department will authorize the employee to receive Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (ISMA), to help defray the cost of maintaining a separate household during that assignment (Department of State Regulation DSSR 264.2).

Security Clearance

  • The spouse does not need a security clearance to be added to the employee’s orders.

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

  • Once the spouse is added to the orders, they can request an airline ticket to travel to post, which will be paid for by the United States Government. For Department of State reservations and ticketing, contact Carlson Wagonlit  at 866-654-5593. The new spouse is authorized 200 pounds of Unaccompanied Air Baggage (UAB) and can add personal effects to the employee’s Household Effects (HHE) and storage allowance, as long as the combined total of the storage weight and the 7,200 pounds of HHE does not exceed 18,000 pounds.

Employee Marries an American Spouse

Note: Marriage with a United States citizen requires no special coordination or notification. An employee is not required to notify their agency of cohabitation with a United States citizen, except permission is required for any cohabitant to occupy United States Government-provided housing as outlined in 3 FAM 4180. An employee’s intent to marry, cohabitate with, or establish a domestic partnership with a United States citizen who is also a citizen of one or more foreign nations must be reported as if the individual were solely a foreign national.

  • Amending Orders: To add a spouse to orders, the employee must send an updated Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126), an original copy of the marriage certificate, and a completed medical clearance to their GTM PCS Analyst. As soon as the GTM PCS Analyst receives all the necessary documents, they 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” or contact GTM/CDA.
  • Health Insurance: Employees with “self only” enrollment must complete a new Health Benefits Election Form (SF-2809) within 60 days after the marriage to add the new spouse. If the employee is not enrolled, they must wait until the annual open season to elect new enrollment. Contact HRSC@state.gov.

Employee Marries a Foreign National Spouse

Note: Failure of an employee to provide the required notification of marriage to, cohabitation with, or establishment of a domestic partnership with a foreign national may result in an investigation, immediate suspension (which may result in a proposal for revocation) of the employee’s security clearance, and/or other disciplinary actions. Employees contemplating a tour of duty to a critical human intelligence threat (HUMINT) post must ensure Diplomatic Security is apprised of these relationships to allow vetting of the foreign national and an adjudication of his/her impact on the impending assignment.

  • In the United States: Foreign Service employees assigned domestically must inform the Office of Continuity Counseling in writing of their intent to marry, establish a domestic partnership with, or cohabitate with a foreign national. Within three days of receipt of such notification, the Continuity Counselor will counsel the employee and prepare a counseling memorandum documenting the conversation in accordance with 12 FAM 275. Once completed, GTM/CDA/CC will initiate the Office of Personnel Management’s e-QIP option and upon completion the appropriate forms will be submitted to Diplomatic Security.
  • Overseas: Foreign Service employees serving abroad must notify the Ambassador or Principal Officer at their post of assignment in writing of their intent to marry, cohabitate with, or establish a domestic partnership with a foreign national. Ordinarily, this is done through the Management or Human Resources office. The DCM or Administrative Officer should counsel the employee and prepare a counseling memorandum of conversation in accordance with 3 FAM 4190.
  • Amending Orders: To add a spouse to orders, the employee must send an updated Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126), an original copy of the marriage certificate, and a completed medical clearance to their GTM PCS Analyst. As soon as the GTM PCS Analyst receives all the necessary documents, they 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” or contact GTM/CDA.
  • Health Insurance: Employees with “self only” enrollment must complete a new Health Benefits Election Form (SF-2809) within 60 days after the marriage to add the new spouse. If the employee is not enrolled, they must wait until the annual open season to elect new enrollment. Contact HRSC@state.gov.

Employee Marries another American Foreign Service Employee (Tandem Employees)

  • Tandem Status: When a Department of State Foreign Service employee marries  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 their 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 their own Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report (OF-126) and indicates that they are part of a tandem couple, listing their “tandem” spouse. 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 their spouse’s orders for that time period.
  • Health Insurance: If both spouses are federal employees, one may enroll for “self and family” or each may enroll for “self only”. Check with Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) for additional information. Contact HRSC@state.gov.
  • Other Resources: Office of Career Development and Assignments (HR/CDA) can provide detailed information for tandems.

Putting Parents on Your Orders

Foreign Service employees may request that their elderly relative(s) (including step parents and legally adopted parents) be approved as an eligible family member and added to their Post Assignment Travel Orders for an overseas assignment. The employee must complete an OF-126 Foreign Service Residence and Dependency Report. Each new OF-126 replaces the old OF-126; therefore, all blocks must be filled out each time a new OF-126 is done. The new OF-126 must be forwarded to the employee’s HR Technician. Travel orders cannot be authorized for newly-acquired eligible family members until the HR Technician receives the OF-126 form.

Along with a completed OF-126 form, the officer must prove that the relative has resided with the employee for at least 6 of the last 12 months, with some exceptions noted in 14 FAM 510, is at least 51 percent dependent for support (subject to review and approval per 14 FAM 510; USAID employees should also see Supplement 1B to HB 32, Chapter 1). The officer must quantify that they have provided more than 51% of support by submitting an affidavit or notarized statement testifying to that fact. This is termed passing the “financial support test.” An explanation regarding the parent’s residency is also required, with an explanation as to why the application is being made to add the parent to the travel orders. Other documentary evidence may be required by the employee’s agency. These documents are attached to the completed OF-126 form and sent to the officer’s agency as specified on the forms. Requests are reviewed for approval by a Personnel OF-126 Committee. Note that the parent may only be on orders as an EFM for one tour. The employee must reapply for another overseas posting.

Employees of the Department of State can obtain advice on how to put their parents on orders through the Career Development and Assignments (CDA) division. Ask for an Assignments Support (CDA/AS) officer. Employees of other agencies should contact their GTM representative.

U.S. Department of State

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