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Los Angeles, CA 90014
Phone: 213-622-7450 Fax: 213-622-7233

Immigration Newsletter

Functions of U.S. Consular Officers Abroad

United States embassies worldwide all have a consular section. Consular officers serve primarily to assist U.S. citizens who are either traveling or residing abroad. In addition, consular officers issue visas to foreigners who would like to travel to and/or reside in the United States. For U.S. citizens abroad, the services that consulates provide can be a vital source of aid.

Emergency Services

Consuls provide a wide range of emergency services to U.S. citizens abroad, including:

  • Replacement of lost passports, generally within 24 hours
  • Help finding medical assistance
  • Help contacting family, bank or employer if money is lost
  • Finding citizens in case of a family emergency at home
  • Visiting citizens in jail should they be arrested, and providing a list of local lawyers
  • Notifying the family of a citizen who dies abroad
  • Issuing public announcements by the U.S. Department of State, warning citizens as to heightened security and cautioning them against traveling overseas during times of national crisis, such as threats of terrorism

Non-emergency Services

Some non-emergency services that consuls provide include:

  • Issuing a “Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen” to a child born abroad whose parents are U.S. citizens, as proof of U.S. citizenship for that child
  • Issuing passports to those whose passports have expired
  • Assisting with absentee voting
  • Providing U.S. tax forms

Despite the latitude afforded a consul to assist U.S. citizens and their families, a consul is obligated under the Privacy Act to refrain from revealing any personal information regarding a U.S. citizen’s location, welfare or problems without the citizen’s express consent. As a result, concerned families of U.S. citizens abroad can often become quite frustrated upon inquiring as to the welfare of their family member.

  • Student Visas
    The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) regulates entry into the U.S. Those who wish to visit the U.S. temporarily, for business, study, or pleasure, may apply for one of a number of “visas.” The INA sets forth the... Read more.
  • A Credible Fear of Persecution and Asylum
    Individuals present in the U.S. may apply for asylum, provided they meet the definition of a refugee and are not barred by law from applying for or being granted asylum. A refugee is generally defined as an individual who is able to... Read more.
  • Asylum Based on Resistance to “Coercive Population Control” Programs
    U.S. asylum laws allow individuals to remain in the U.S. indefinitely (but not permanently) and to enjoy certain rights, such as the right to work and to apply for permanent resident status after one year. To qualify for asylum status,... Read more.
  • The Two-Parent Consent Law for U.S. Passport Applications
    In July 2001, the United States Department of State implemented a law regarding passport application procedures. Under the Two-Parent Consent Law, as amended in 2008, both parents are required to consent to the passport application for... Read more.
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