Who We Are

U.S. Department of State employees, with their skills, character and commitment to public service, are the backbone of America’s diplomacy. They represent the American people, advocate U.S. interests to the rest of the world and are America’s first line of defense in a complex and often dangerous world.
Foreign Service employees respond to the needs of U.S. citizens in other countries, and they can be sent to any embassy, consulate, or other diplomatic mission anywhere in the world, at any time, to serve the diplomatic needs of the United States. These assignments can be to hardship posts, and some do not allow family members to accompany the employee.

While the Department’s Foreign Service employees travel far and frequently, generally rotating assignments every two to three years, Civil Service employees remain stateside. Primarily serving in Washington, D.C., Civil Service professionals are involved in every area of the Department – from human rights to narcotics control to trade to environmental issues. Some are the domestic counterparts to consular officers abroad, issuing passports and assisting U.S. citizens overseas.

Foreign Service National employees (often referred to as Locally Engaged Staff, LES) are citizens of the countries in which the Department maintains diplomatic posts and consulates. They are valued members of our mission teams, providing continuity for the transient American staff and possessing local language and cultural expertise.