What does the Department of State do?

The Department of State (also known as the State Department) is one of the five executive branch agencies tasked with enforcing immigration legislation passed by Congress. The head of the Department of State is the Secretary of State, who oversees U.S. international diplomacy and relations. Under the direction of the Secretary of State, and in accordance with U.S. laws, the Department of State also performs several different important functions related to immigration and international tourism.

The Department of State oversees U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Employees of these agencies provide assistance and services to U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad. These employees, called consular officials, review visa applications for fiancé(e) and relative visas that have been filed with and granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They also screen other types of visa applications from people who want to visit (but not immigrate to) the U.S. People who wish to visit the U.S. on H-1B and other business-related visas must also apply through the Department of State. Once review is complete, the official will decide whether to grant or deny the visa. The official’s decision is final, and can’t be appealed.


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