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Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA)
Prospective exchange visitors approved by a designated sponsor visit a nearby US embassy or consulate to apply for a visa to enter the United States. US embassies and consulates are operated by the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA), the public face of the US Department of State.
Key takeaway
Bureau of Consular Affairs provides passport services and assistance to US citizens abroad, facilitate legitimate travel to the US, and more.

A US embassy is generally located in the capital city of the host country. It is led by a US ambassador.

In larger countries, a US embassy may have branches (called the consulates) located in other main cities. A consulate is led by a consul general who reports to the US ambassador. US consulates carry out similar functions as the embassies do in national capitals. Check out for the websites of US embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions.

The Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) is a database used by passport agencies, posts, and border inspection agencies. It assists and supports the decisions for visa and passport issuance and to help establish a person’s eligibility for overseas services.

Travel.State.Gov provides useful information such as application instructions for visa applicants, passport information, travel warnings and alerts, and more.
  • Provide services to and assist Americans living or travelling abroad
  • Issue visas for eligible foreign travelers to the States
  • Interact with representatives of the host country
  • Help American businesses find partners and customers abroad
  • Work with law enforcement agencies to combat foreign crime
  • Sponsors cultural exchanges to introduce emerging/established leaders to the US
  • Analyze political/economic situations in a host country and report back
  • Facilitate strong ties between the US and foreigners
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