|Headquarters||2201 C Street NW |
Washington, D.C. 20520
|Parent agency||Under Secretary for Management|
The Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) was mandated by the United States Congress to serve the interests of the American public, the American diplomatic community abroad, and the foreign diplomatic community residing in the United States ensuring that all diplomatic benefits, privileges, and immunities would be properly exercised in accordance with federal laws and international agreements.
The Foreign Missions Act (22 U.S.C. 4301-4316) provides the legal foundation to facilitate secure and efficient operations of U.S. missions abroad, and of foreign missions and international organizations in the United States.
The Office of Foreign Missions has four missions.
As an advocate for reciprocal agreements, OFM presses for fair treatment of U.S. personnel abroad while assuring foreign diplomats based in the United States receive the same treatment that each respective government provides in return. Additionally, OFM assists foreign missions in dealing with local government offices in the United States.
OFM also provides a range of services to the foreign diplomatic community, including issuance of vehicle titles, vehicle registrations, driver's licenses, and license plates; processing of tax exemption and duty-free customs requests; and facilitation of property acquisitions through local zoning law procedures. By assisting, advising, and regulating services for foreign diplomats, their dependents, and their staffs while residing in the United States.
Finally, OFM establishes and maintains relationships with U.S. law enforcement and security communities at the national, state, and local levels to educate them about diplomatic privilege and immunity issues.
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws, although they may still be expelled. Modern diplomatic immunity was codified as international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961) which has been ratified by all but a handful of nations. The concept and custom of diplomatic immunity dates back thousands of years. Many principles of diplomatic immunity are now considered to be customary law. Diplomatic immunity was developed to allow for the maintenance of government relations, including during periods of difficulties and armed conflict. When receiving diplomats, who formally represent the sovereign, the receiving head of state grants certain privileges and immunities to ensure they may effectively carry out their duties, on the understanding that these are provided on a reciprocal basis.
A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state or an organization present in another state to represent the sending state or organization officially in the receiving state. In practice, the phrase diplomatic mission usually denotes the resident mission, namely the embassy, which is the main office of a country's diplomatic representatives to another country; this is usually, but not necessarily, in the receiving state's capital city. Consulates, on the other hand, are smaller diplomatic missions which are normally located in major cities of the receiving state. As well as being a diplomatic mission to the country in which it is situated, it may also be a non-resident permanent mission to one or more other countries. There are thus resident and non-resident embassies.
The United States Department of State (DOS), commonly referred to as the State Department, is a federal executive department responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Established in 1789 as the nation's first executive department, its duties include advising the President of the United States, administering the nation's diplomatic missions, negotiating treaties and agreements with foreign entities, and representing the U.S. at the United Nations.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country. This forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity. Its articles are considered a cornerstone of modern international relations. As of October 2018, it has been ratified by 192 states.
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state or an intergovernmental institution such as the United Nations or the European Union to conduct diplomacy with one or more other States or international organizations.
The Burlingame Treaty, also known as the Burlingame–Seward Treaty of 1868, was a landmark treaty between the United States and Qing China, amending the Treaty of Tientsin, to establish formal friendly relations between the two nations, with the United States granting China the status of most favored nation with regards to trade. It was signed in the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. in 1868 and ratified in Peking in 1869. The most significant result of the treaty was that it effectively lifted any former restrictions in regards to emigration to the United States from China; with large-scale immigration to the United States beginning in earnest by Chinese immigrants.
The United States Foreign Service is the primary personnel system used by the diplomatic service of the United States federal government, under the aegis of the United States Department of State. It consists of over 13,000 professionals carrying out the foreign policy of the United States and aiding U.S. citizens abroad. The current Director General is Carol Z. Perez.
The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) is an intelligence agency in the United States Department of State whose primary mission is to provide all-source intelligence and analysis for U.S. diplomats. It is the oldest civilian intelligence agency in the U.S. Intelligence Community, as well as one of the smallest, with roughly 300 personnel.
A chargé d'affaires, often shortened to chargé (French) and sometimes to charge-D, is a diplomat who served as an embassy's Chief of mission in the absence of the ambassador. The term is French for "charged with matters". A female diplomat may be designated a chargée d'affaires, following French declension.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, more commonly known as Diplomatic Security, or DS, is the security and law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. DS is a world leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, security technology, and protection of people, property, and information. DS's mission is to provide a safe and secure environment for officials to carry out U.S. foreign policy.
The United States Diplomatic Security Service is the federal law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State. It is responsible for protecting diplomatic assets, personnel and information, and ensuring the integrity of U.S. travel documents against visa and passport fraud. The agency's mandate includes counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cybersecurity, and criminal investigations.
Diplomatic rank is a system of professional and social rank used in the world of diplomacy and international relations. A diplomat's rank determines many ceremonial details, such as the order of precedence at official processions, table seatings at state dinners, the person to whom diplomatic credentials should be presented, and the title by which the diplomat should be addressed.
A consul is an official representative of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the people of the two countries.
Diplomatic law is that area of international law that governs permanent and temporary diplomatic missions. A fundamental concept of diplomatic law is that of diplomatic immunity, which derives from state immunity.
The Embassy of the United States of America in Baghdad is the diplomatic mission of the United States of America in the Republic of Iraq. Ambassador Matthew Tueller is currently the Chief of Mission.
A protecting power is a country that represents another sovereign state in a country where it lacks its own diplomatic representation. It is common for protecting powers to be appointed when two countries break off diplomatic relations with each other. The protecting power is responsible for looking after the sending state's diplomatic property and citizens in the hosting state. If diplomatic relations were broken by the outbreak of war, the protecting power will also inquire into the welfare of prisoners of war and look after the interests of civilians in enemy-occupied territory.
A de facto embassy is an office or organisation that serves de facto as an embassy in the absence of normal or official diplomatic relations among countries, usually to represent nations which lack full diplomatic recognition, regions or dependencies of countries, or territories over which sovereignty is disputed. In some cases, diplomatic immunity and extraterritoriality may be granted.
On December 11, 2013, Devyani Khobragade, then the Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of India in New York City, was charged by U.S. authorities with committing visa fraud and providing false statements in order to gain entry to the United States for Sangeeta Richard, a woman of Indian nationality, for employment as a domestic worker for Khobragade in New York. She was additionally charged with failing to pay the domestic worker a minimum wage. Khobragade was arrested the next day by U.S. federal law enforcement authorities, subjected to a "strip search", presented to a judge and released the same day. Her arrest and treatment have received much media attention particularly in India, and led to a diplomatic row between India and the United States.
The Diplomatic Service of the Republic of Lithuania is the part of the governmental service tasked with enforcing the foreign policy set by the President, the Parliament, and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. The head of the service is the Foreign Minister.
The Chief of Protocol (CoP) is a government official who heads the protocol department of a state, overseeing security, logistics and etiquette in diplomatic and national functions. A protocol department decides on diplomatic immunity and privileges, diplomatic host security, diplomatic use of airspace and it is the guardian of official etiquette. Advance protocol teams, usually headed by the Chief of Protocol, engage as first contact between governments for the planning of bilateral and multilateral summits and visits.