Our Mission and Leadership Tenets

The mission of the Bureau of Consular Affairs is to protect the lives and interests of American citizens overseas and to strengthen U.S. border security.  Consular work is about touching people’s lives in a thousand different ways every day.  We deal with events and issues that have a personal impact: birth, death, marriage, adoption, child custody, citizenship, and relocation to another country.  CA provides the passports that enable Americans to travel internationally and stands ready to lend a helping hand when citizens fall victim to crime, accident or illness in other countries, or just want to vote absentee.  We make decisions and take actions every day that form key turning points in people’s lives.

We have no higher responsibility than safeguarding our country’s citizens and borders through vigilance in the visa process, and we are determined to carry out this responsibility in the best and most effective manner possible.  Following regulations established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act, consular officers overseas are responsible for issuing all non-immigrant and immigrant visas.  We provide consular officers worldwide with the policies, tools, and training to stop questionable or problematic travelers overseas long before they ever reach our shores.  We share our data with other agencies to facilitate identification of legitimate travelers at ports of entry and to expose impostors.  We also work every day with business, industry, the academic community, and the general public to see that access to our country is not impeded for foreigners whose presence we encourage and value. 

The Bureau of Consular Affairs supports over 11,000 people located in more than 300 places around the world, including 21 domestic passport facilities and two regional visa processing centers. As the public face of the Department of State for millions of United States citizens and foreign nationals around the world, the Bureau of Consular Affairs plays a vital role in the mission of the U.S. Department of State.

Leadership Tenets for the Bureau of Consular Affairs

A tenet is a shared principle held to be true by members of an organization. The tenets we hold as consular leaders must be reflected in every aspect of our work and in the way we interact with our colleagues. All consular supervisors should hold themselves accountable for modeling these leadership tenets. In addition, consular employees at all levels should cultivate the qualities embodied in these tenets and integrate them into their approach to work.

Consular Leaders:


We develop and communicate a vision for how our work unit can most effectively contribute to the Department’s mission. In pursuing that vision we relentlessly challenge employees to strive for excellence and engage them in the effort to achieve goals and improve all aspects of the operation.

Model Integrity

We hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and professional conduct and do what is best for the organization and mission. We generously share credit for the accomplishments of the organization and demonstrate courage in dealing with difficult decisions and poor performers.

Develop the Next Generation

We take seriously our responsibilities as teachers, coaches and mentors and work to develop the skills necessary to play those roles effectively. We make time to get to know our less experienced colleagues and provide them timely praise, honest feedback, and opportunities to cultivate their talents.

Delegate Authority—But Not Responsibility

We give employees ownership over their work, issue clear and concise instructions, and provide coaching and further clarification if needed. We stand behind our people and take responsibility when mistakes are made or calculated risks don’t work out.


We help others understand the mission—and their role in accomplishing it. We also listen actively to each other’s concerns and encourage innovation in consular work by listening intently for suggestions.

Build Great Teams

We recruit high-caliber candidates for consular job vacancies, train them right from the start, build trust, and foster a sense of pride and mutual support in the team. We serve the team by eliminating obstacles, resolving conflicts, obtaining appropriate resources, and celebrating success.

Lead by Example

We set the example for work ethic and demonstrate the willingness and knowledge of consular work to do any job to help the team. We run interference to prevent abuse and undue pressure.

Follow Courageously

We take ownership of our work and hold ourselves accountable for improving performance and making our organization stronger. We dissent respectfully and help the boss become more effective in the interest of the team and the mission.

Learn Constantly

We deepen our personal self-awareness in order to cultivate our talents and mitigate mission-critical weaknesses. We display humility by acknowledging our shortcomings and continually work to improve both our skills and our substantive knowledge.

Practice 360-Degree Diplomacy

We consider consular work central to core objectives of the mission and the Department and establish constructive working relationships with all mission elements to further those objectives. We engage in public diplomacy to advance organizational goals.

Leadership Tenets for the Bureau of Consular Affairs  (pdfPDF)

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