The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is in charge of issuing passports for American citizens intending to reside, conduct business, study, or travel abroad. It also provides alerts and warnings concerning potentially dangerous conditions in foreign countries, and assists U.S. citizens abroad on a variety of issues, including helping those who want to vote by absentee ballot when they’re out of the country, those who are involved in international adoptions, or those who fall victim to crime, accident or illness. In addition, the Bureau of Consular Affairs provides services to citizens of other countries seeking visas to visit or reside legally in the United States, and conducts research to determine who qualifies for a visa, and which applicants may be attempting to get into the country to engage in harmful activities. A bureau of the U.S. Department of State, the Bureau of Consular Affairs also serves as a liaison between the Department and overseas Embassies and Consulates on visa matters.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952, in which the basic United States laws governing immigration and naturalization are contained, created the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs within the Department of State, INA gave responsibility for the administration and enforcement of immigration law to the Secretary of State, as it relates to the duties and functions of diplomatic and consular officers, with the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs becoming the branch of the Department of State to manage the issuance of passports to citizens, and visas to immigrants seeking permanent residence, and non-immigrants seeking authorization for a temporary stay in the U.S. From March 1 to December 30, 1954, the Bureau was called Inspection, Security, and Consular Affairs. It returned to the name Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs until 1979, when it was renamed the Bureau of Consular Affairs. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, many of the programs and business procedures of the Bureau were re-tailored to address potential new threats; 570 new consular positions were created, and a Border Security Program was developed with a stated mission of denying valid entry into the United States of individuals who might pose a threat to the country; facilitating the entry of legitimate foreign visitors and students; protecting American citizens abroad; and researching and developing automated systems.
President George W. Bush sent his nomination for Janice L. Jacobs to become Assistant Secretary of State to the Senate on April 2, 2008. Jacobs received a BA in French and Education from Southern Illinois University in 1968. Then from 1968 to 1969 she worked as an assembly line worker for Magnavox in Champaign, Illinois, and in the Admissions Office at the University of Illinois. From 1969 to 1970 she taught French and Spanish at Edison Jr. High in Champaign. At this point, her husband joined the Foreign Service, and she accompanied him on tours to Ecuador, Egypt, and Mexico, working in a variety of jobs, including at the World Bank, NAFSA (an association of international educators), and as a substitute teacher at various international schools overseas. In 1978 Jacobs was hired by the Department of State as an Eligible Family Member, and worked in the consular sections at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and Merida, Mexico. She formally joined the Foreign Service in March 1980, and from 1980 through 1981 she was assigned to Lagos, Nigeria. From the summer of 1982 to summer 1983 her assignment took her to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and from 1983 to 1985 she served in Paris. Then she took a year of paid leave to join her new husband in Miami, and attended Florida International University.