Our Work at Home and Overseas

Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
December 16, 2013

At home, the passport process is often the primary contact most U.S. citizens have with the Department of State. There are 28 domestic passport agencies and centers, and more than 8,100 passport acceptance facilities nationwide. The Department designates many post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and other state, county, township, and municipal government offices to accept passport applications on its behalf. In 2013, the Washington and Special Issuance Passport Agencies relocated to a new facility in downtown Washington, D.C. A new Passport Agency in San Juan, Puerto Rico is scheduled to open in January 2014.

Overseas, in each Embassy, the Chief of Mission (usually an Ambassador) is responsible for executing U.S. foreign policy aims, as well as coordinating and managing all U.S. Government functions in the host country. The President appoints each Chief of Mission, who is then confirmed by the Senate. The Chief of Mission reports directly to the President through the Secretary of State. The U.S. Mission is also the primary U.S. Government point of contact for Americans overseas and foreign nationals of the host country. The Mission serves the needs of Americans traveling, working, and studying abroad, and supports Presidential and Congressional delegations visiting the country.

Every diplomatic mission in the world operates under a security program designed and maintained by the Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). In the United States, DS investigates passport and visa fraud, conducts personnel security investigations, and protects the Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and visiting officials. An "In Focus" view of our global visa fraud investigations is shown below.

Additionally, the Department utilizes a wide variety of technology tools to further enhance its effectiveness and magnify its efficiency. Today, most offices increasingly rely on digital video conferences, virtual presence posts, and websites to support their missions. The Department also leverages social networking Web tools to engage in dialogue with a broader audience. See Appendix D for Department websites of interest.

In Focus.

Increased Number of Visa Crime Investigations Opened Globally

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the Department. Visa crimes are international offenses that may start overseas, but can threaten public safety inside the United States if offenders are not interdicted with aggressive and coordinated law enforcement action. DS agents and analysts observe, detect, identify, and neutralize networks that exploit international travel vulnerabilities. DS global visa crime investigations and arrests have increased nearly 80 percent over the past five years.

Bar chart summarizing the number of Visa crime investigations opened globally for fiscal years 2009 to 2013. Values are as follows:FY 2009: 672.FY 2010: 907.FY 2011: 955.FY 2012: 1,197.FY 2013: 1,207. Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

In July 2013, in Denver, Colorado, a jury found Kizzy Kalu guilty on 89 charges of trafficking in forced labor, visa fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering as part of an H-1B visa crime conspiracy. The case was the biggest human trafficking prosecution in Colorado history and was investigated by the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Labor, among others.

Source: U.S. Department of State,
Bureau of Diplomatic Security.