2 FAM 130

The U.S. Government’s Overseas Presence

(CT:GEN-557;   05-08-2020)
(Office of Origin:  M/SS)

2 FAM 131  Post Types of diplomatic and consular posts

(CT:GEN-557;   05-08-2020)

a. A post type represents a distinct collection of posts identified by their roles within missions, the rank of the Foreign Service officers at the posts, and by the types of functions performed by the posts.  The specific application of post types to individual posts can be found in the Bureau of Information Resource Management's Master Reference Data.

b. A permanent bilateral mission is an embassy established and maintained by the U.S. Government and headed by an ambassador to conduct normal continuing diplomatic relations between the Government of the United States and the government of one other country or authority.  In some instances, a single mission may maintain relations with more than one country or authority, but the relations are always one-to-one.  The ambassador is the principal diplomatic representative of the U.S. Government at post.  Embassies normally operate from facilities located within capital cities.  There are seven categories of embassies under State GTM Bureau’s Overseas Staffing Model, ranging from very large to very small.  An embassy is comprised of all U.S. agencies at post represented in the country or area, such as USAID, Foreign Agriculture Service, Foreign Commercial Service, Peace Corps, military groups, law enforcement, and Defense attachés, as well as the traditional functions concerned with political, economic, commercial, labor, consular, science, public affairs, management, and related affairs.  All agencies at post are under chief-of-mission (COM) authority except those agencies under the command of a U.S. area military commander.  Branch offices of an embassy are part of an embassy’s facility located and staffed in a city other than the capital of a country.

c.  Special bilateral or multilateral missions are types of missions established to achieve a diplomatic purpose of a special character distinct from the normal continuing diplomatic functions.  These missions have a purpose which has a logical end-point or conclusion, such as the negotiation of an agreement.

d. Multilateral missions are U.S. missions accredited to international organizations instead of foreign governments.  Two are in the United States:  the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN) and the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (USOAS).

f.  Legations are diplomatic establishments headed by a minister.  The United States has had legations in the past but none at this time.

g. U.S. interest sections (USINTs) operate under the auspices of a protecting power in a country with which the United States has no diplomatic relations.  USINTs are structurally and functionally similar to embassies.  The senior U.S. officer is the equivalent of a consul or consul general, not an ambassador, but holds COM authority.  The USINT in Tehran is operated by the Government of Switzerland and located at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

h. U.S. liaison offices (USLOs) are precursors to the establishment of embassies.  There are no USLOs established at this time.

i.  Consulates general (CGs) are the offices and staff of consuls general, who are the senior consular representatives of the U.S. Government at their overseas posts and regional consular areas.  Consuls general are subordinate to ambassadors who hold COM authority, and operate from facilities located within major cities.  In some instances, consuls general may hold COM authority themselves, such as at Consulates General Hong Kong and Jerusalem.  Consulates general range from large to small offices.  They perform a range of functions and often host non-State agencies.

j.  Consulates are the offices and staff of consuls, consular representatives of the U.S. Government, who are subordinate to COMs and operate from facilities within major cities of foreign countries.  Consulates are usually smaller than CGs, contain few, if any, non-State personnel and focus mainly on consular functions.

k. Consular agencies are staffed by local-resident agents who provide non-visa consular services.  Many of these agents are resident U.S. citizens and most work only part-time.

l.  American presence posts (APPs) are small diplomatic and consular presences of the U.S. Government in foreign countries, usually staffed by one U.S. direct-hire officer that contain no locally employed (LE) staff.  APPs are legally consulates, and the opening or closing of an APP is governed accordingly (see 2 FAM 411.1).  (See 2 FAM 133, American Presence Posts, for a full explanation.)

m. Virtual presence posts (VPPs) have no resident U.S. employees, either U.S. citizens or LE staff.  VPPs allow established posts to provide remote diplomatic engagement with important cities or regions.  Generally, they entail regular, targeted visits from mission personnel, ongoing public affairs activities, and “virtual” engagement by means of websites dedicated to the city or region.

2 FAM 132  American Presence Posts (APPs)

2 FAM 132.1  The Purpose of an APP

(CT:GEN-535;   02-21-2019)

APPs are one type of post in a range of options for U.S. diplomatic representation.  Their utility is limited to places where an embassy requires a mission presence focused on narrow objectives, with limited capabilities, affordable within existing mission resources with relatively small augmentations of funds for security and facilities.  They are available to limit the potential demand for general-purpose consulates and to retain presence in locations where the U.S. Government requires diplomats but cannot afford, or does not require, a fully capable consulate.  Overseas missions create APPs largely from existing resources; this tends to limit demand for APPs in locations with no current presence.

2 FAM 132.2  Background

(CT:GEN-535;   02-21-2019)

a. The American presence post (APP) concept was advanced in 1998 as a means to provide focused American diplomatic presence in specific locations.  An APP is “a special purpose post with limited staffing and responsibilities.  It is established as a consulate under the Vienna Convention” (see 2 FAM 111.2).

b. The key concepts associated with APPs are:

(1)  Simplicity:  One or two American officers, with very few associated local employees;

(2)  Focus and proximity:  Exploiting opportunities to influence key national sectors in a location associated with those sectors, for example in the APPs in France, trade and public diplomacy;

(3)  Low-cost, self-financed:  Established in locations where the local infrastructure can provide the means of operations, such as commercial or host-government office space, commercial communications, and skilled staff.  Sponsoring embassies are expected to provide most of the resources to establish and maintain an APP;

(4)  Unclassified operations:  No start-up or recurring costs or manpower associated with vaults, 24/7-cleared American guards, controlled access areas, control of classified materials, installation and maintenance of classified communications systems; and

(5)  No visa or routine passport/ACS operations:  Provision of emergency American Citizens Services only; avoidance of costs and manpower associated with visa issuance (no teller windows or associated hard-line); no consular waiting area; and no archive of visa application information.

c.  The Department of State has no plans to establish “APP embassies,” although the distinction may be unimportant.  For example, Embassy St. George’s, Grenada, has only one U.S. resident officer, with its nonresident U.S. ambassador based in Bridgetown, Barbados.  St. George’s matches the definition of APP in all respects but name.

2 FAM 132.3  Experience

(CT:GEN-535;   02-21-2019)

a. Proposals for establishing APPs have arisen, in all cases, from the cognizant embassies and have been based on one of two phenomena:

(1)  An embassy perceives an exploitable opportunity to advance mission goals by relocating some of its assets to an APP location where there is no established presence; and

(2)  The Department downsizes a consulate general or consulate, and the embassy successfully advocates the retention of a very limited U.S. officer presence.

b. In either case, establishing or closing an APP must:

(1)  Meet priority objectives of the Mission Strategic and Resource Plan (MSRP) and Bureau Strategic and Resource Plan (BSRP);

(2)  Represent a demonstrably more efficient or effective use of existing mission resources;

(3)  Be approved by the Under Secretary for Management (M); and

(4)  Be notified to Congress when it constitutes a post opening or closing.

c.  In most cases, proposing embassies observe that they are spending mission resources to provide special services in the target location, usually by temporary duty (TDY) coverage from the embassy.  The embassy will often believe that it can improve product and reduce resource outlays by moving an officer to the target location.

2 FAM 132.4  Security and Administrative Support

(CT:GEN-535;   02-21-2019)

a. The security standards for consulates apply to APPs.  There is no cost or efficiency gain associated with APP status per se.  The Secure Embassy Counterterrorism and Construction Act, Public Law 106-113 (FY-2000), requires APPs to meet mandatory 100-foot setback requirements, or be granted a waiver.  Other Overseas Security Policy Board security standards apply as well.  To most efficiently contain costs, the expectation is that most APP facilities would be located in commercial office spaces; waivers to setback would be granted in accordance with the law; and security standards for an office in a tenant of commercial office space would be applied, providing adequate but lower-cost security.

b. APPs should receive most administrative support from the associated embassy, to keep local staffing as small as possible.

c.  Cost containment results from the very small presence, limited consular function, and the lack of classified infrastructure and maintenance.

2 FAM 132.5  Opening or Closing an APP or Removing the APP Designation

(CT:GEN-535;   02-21-2019)

a. As APPs are legally consulates, the procedures outlined in 2 FAM 400, Opening, Closing, or Changing the Status of a Foreign Service Post, are to be followed when opening or closing an APP.

b. To remove the APP designation/status from a post, a request should be made from the Assistant Secretary for the appropriate regional bureau through the Director General to the Under Secretary for Management (M).  The request should include any resource implications (i.e., if additional positions are required, are they to be reprogrammed from another post or are new positions requested?).

2 FAM 132.6  Conclusions

(CT:GEN-535;   02-21-2019)

APPs are by definition designed to utilize limited means for limited goals.  They serve niche markets in the Mission Strategic and Resource Plan (MSRP).  Requiring embassies to provide the resources for opening APPs constrains their proliferation.  They are a “presence” option as a low-cost, defined alternative to small consulates.

2 FAM 133 through 139  unassigned