How Diplomats Helped a U.S. Citizen Injured 8,000 Miles From Home

Every U.S. Embassy has a duty officer on call right now.  Any U.S. citizen facing a medical or legal emergency just about anywhere in the world can get immediate help from a U.S. diplomat 24/7.  Employees at the embassy rotate duty officer responsibility, and I remember one particular instance when I was serving in the role in 2011 and the duty phone rang during dinner.  I answered it with some trepidation, as we always do, hoping it would not be a terrible emergency. MORE

Smart Traveler Day Roundtable Engages Members of the LGBT Travel Industry

Consular Officers speak with representatives of LGBT travel industry during a Smart Traveler Day roundtable at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., February 20, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Esperanza Tilghman serves as a Public Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Recently, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) launched its Smart Traveler Day campaign, designed to support CA’s ongoing efforts to keep U.S. citizens informed and connected to the latest travel information, and to emphasize the assistance CA provides to U.S. citizens traveling overseas.

On February 20, 2013, CA kicked off the campaign with the first-ever roundtable discussion engaging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. The roundtable focused on the unique challenges facing LGBT travelers, and how CA provides information and resources to help U.S. citizen travelers stay well-informed and safe. The event was organized… more »

Consular Officers Share Holiday Travel Tips

Travelers queue at the Duesseldorf International Airport on March 27, 2012. in Duesseldorf, Germany. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Paula Williams serves in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Are you traveling abroad this holiday season? Make sure you’re prepared for your holiday travel by checking out travel.state.gov before you go.

Travel.state.gov is the State Department’s primary location for information about travel to other countries. There is information about every country in the world on such practical topics as entry requirements, road conditions, and safety and security among others. It is also the official source of information for U.S. citizens during emergency situations abroad.

Pick up some quick… more »

America’s Newest (and Youngest) Citizens Welcomed in Special National Adoption Month Ceremony

Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Alejandro Mayorkas and Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs meet families at the U.S. Department of State's National Adoption Month Event in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Esperanza Tilghman serves as a Public Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

"Intercountry adoption is an important matter of foreign policy. It provides the opportunity for loving parents to offer a permanent home and a family for children who need that. And it deepens and enriches our culture and builds on one of the America’s greatest strengths, our diversity." -Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

On November 8, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs, and Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Alejandro Mayorkas in a special ceremony commemorating November as National Adoption Month. The special ceremony, coordinated by the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in partnership with USCIS, honored… more »

U.S. Embassies and Consulates Observe Election Night 2012

A group of women celebrate the victory of President Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election, November 7, 2012 during an event to watch the results of the election hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. [AP Photo]

About the Author: Richard Buangan serves as the the Director of Digital Engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs.

To us Americans, Election Day is that day in November when we head to the polls to exercise our right to vote. Most of us walk into voting booths as part of our routine — unassuming, low-key, and often without fanfare. But around the world, our embassies and consulates were hosting foreign guests to view the election returns and talk about American politics, amid excitement and nail-biting euphoria.

For U.S. diplomats overseas, Election night presents a public diplomacy opportunity to illustrate to foreign audiences our core values of democracy and civic responsibility — values that define the American experience.

Last night into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, journalists, civil society leaders, and students gathered to not only watch the results on a big screen TV and talk about the election process with US officials, but to also witness firsthand… more »

Consulate Helps U.S. Citizens Residing Overseas Vote in Mumbai

Vice Consul Jeffrey Ellis and American Citizen Services Chief Rosemary Macray pose for a photograph during U.S. Consulate Mumbai's voting assistance event, October 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Jessica Levy Kania serves as U.S. Vice Consul in Mumbai, India.

Right in the middle of election season, I moved from Virginia to Mumbai, India, where I work at the U.S. Consulate. Even though, as an absentee voter without access to cable TV, I can watch the debates and read U.S. news online, I sometimes catch myself feeling more like an outside observer than an active participant in the political process — and I believe that many other U.S. citizens living overseas feel the same way.

That is one reason why I was so pleased to bring some U.S. campaign excitement to India by helping to stage a voting party for U.S. citizens. Mumbai’s American Citizen Services Unit transformed our consular waiting hall into a small piece of the United States abroad, with American classics playing on the speakers, popcorn from a theatre-style machine, and a red-white-and-blue balloon arch. Attendees dropped their absentee ballots in a giant, star-spangled… more »

Ballots, Bagels, and Brass Bands: Celebrating American Traditions in Kigali

The Kigali International Community School (KICS) band perform performs at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, September 28, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Emily Makely serves as Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.

From late-September through mid-October, U.S. embassies and consulates around the world hosted voting events to help U.S. citizens overseas participate in the 2012 U.S. elections. On September 28, 2012, U.S. Embassy Kigali hosted an “Absentee Voting Week Celebration.” More than 250 U.S. citizens visited the embassy compound to vote, pose for photos next to the ballot box, and hear the Kigali International Community School (KICS) band perform “Grand Old Flag,” “America the Beautiful,” and other American classics.

Students played another important role at the event by training designated official voting assistance volunteers at fvap.gov prior to the event and using their new-found knowledge to volunteer… more »

Embassies and Consulates Help Overseas U.S. Citizens To Vote

This Jan. 31, 2012 file photo shows a woman voting at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland as early voting began in Ohio's March 6 presidential primary. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Jack Markey serves as Deputy Director of American Citizen Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Your vote counts, wherever you are! If you forgot to register and/or request a ballot, there’s still time to cast your vote, but you’ll have to act fast. Register and/or request a ballot today using the federal post card application at www.FVAP.gov. Select the electronic ballot delivery option, include your email address (and fax number) and send it to local election officials in your state. Almost every state lets you send it by email or fax. Once your application is processed, they will send you your ballot via fax or email, depending on your state’s rules. Vote as soon as you receive the blank ballot. Registration deadlines vary and some are as early as October 7, so check your state’s requirements and deadlines carefully.

From late-September through mid-October, U.S. embassies and consulates… more »

Strategic Dialogue on International Travel: Exceeding the President’s Travel and Tourism Goals

Travelers walk through the terminal at Washingtons National Airport, Nov. 2010. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Janice L. Jacobs serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.

As the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, I had the distinct pleasure today of briefing leaders from the travel and tourism industry on the strides we and our partners have made in transforming how we facilitate travel by legitimate visitors to the United States, while maintaining the highest standards of border security. My remarks were part of a half-day Strategic Dialogue on International Travel to review the progress we have made in meeting and exceeding the President’s travel and tourism goals.

You see, our consular officers in 222 visa issuing posts around the world have always understood that they are often the first and only interaction a foreigner will have with a U.S citizen. The visa process protects our borders, but it is also an integral part of our public face beyond those borders. This is why we are working harder than ever to make that process… more »

2014 Diversity Visa Program Registration

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC
September 21, 2012

The 2014 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2014) will open at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 2, 2012, and will close at noon, EDT, Saturday, November 3, 2012. Applicants must submit entries electronically during this registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Paper entries will not be accepted. We strongly encourage applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter. Heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 3, 2012.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 and provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” Section 203(c) of the INA provides a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas each fiscal year to be made available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Fifty-five thousand immigrant visas are set aside for DV immigrants; however, since DV-1999, Congress has reserved 5,000 visas from this annual allocation to be made available for use under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA).

The annual DV program makes visas available to persons meeting the simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. A computer-generated, random drawing chooses selectees for Diversity Visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions, with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the period of the past five years. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year. MORE.