Military Families

Consular Services for U.S. Military Personnel and Dependents

The U.S. Mission in Germany is pleased and honored to be able to serve our military colleagues and their families.  We work very closely with personnel offices on base to provide you the services and information you need.  We’ve developed this website exclusively for you to make it even easier for you to obtain necessary travel documentation and other services.

Tips:

  • Apply far enough ahead of your travel to ensure you won’t be delayed.
  • New Passports:  Allow at least one month for issuance of a new tourist passport (3 months if applying for an official or no-fee passport).
  • Renewing Passports:  Check your current passport’s expiration date.  Make a note on your calendar to apply for a new one at least a month before it expires.
  • Immigrant Visas:  File an immigrant visa petition for your non-American family members at least six months before your PCS.
  • Remember:  It is your responsibility to ensure that you and your family members have all proper documentation before your trip.

We can help in bona fide emergencies, but simply forgetting to apply in time puts your travel plans at risk.  Some processes, such as immigrant visas, need months to be completed.

Appointments:
All services are by appointment only.  Department of Defense-affiliated personnel must apply for passports and reports of birth through their local Passport Agents on base.  If you need service in an emergency, your local Passport Agent will help you  make an appointment with us.

You can apply for a CRBA electronically at U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt, Germany. To apply, your child must have been born in GERMANY.

Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is a formal document certifying the acquisition of United States citizenship at birth for a person born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents who meet the requirements for transmitting citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  United States non-citizen nationals are also eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, using the non-citizen option.

To be eligible to apply for a CRBA online at the Consulate Frankfurt, you must answer all of the following criteria with YES

  • Was the child born in GERMANY?
  • Is the child under the age of 18
  • Was at least one parent a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Non-Citizen National when the child was born?
  • You did not use Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in having your child for whom you are seeking a Consular Report of Birth Abroad?
  • I can use a credit card or a direct payment from my U.S. bank account (also known as “ACH”), to pay online for my Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) application.
  • I am a biological parent or legal guardian applying for a child born abroad.

If any of the above statements do not apply to you, you MUST apply by completing a paper application (DS-2029) and submit your application with your passport agent. A listing of all passport agents can be found here.

This new process will allow U.S. citizen parents to complete a CRBA application online, upload all required documents, and submit payment prior to the in-person interview.  The easy-to-use online application process provides applicants step-by-step instructions on how to complete the CRBA application.

After completing the online application and making a payment online, please allow up to 3-5 working days for payment to go through and for the Consulate to receive your completed DS-2029 and uploaded documents. After the Consulate has received your package, it will be forwarded to your Passport Acceptance Agent on base. Your Passport Acceptance Agent will email or call to make an appointment for parent’s and child to appear in person to take the oath, accept all original documents, and apply for your child’s tourist and/or no-fee passport.

As a CRBA is not a travel document, it is strongly recommended that you submit an application for the child’s U.S. passport at the same time.  Both applications may be submitted together at your scheduled CRBA appointment and the child and both parents must appear.  If one custodial parent is not able to attend, they must submit a notarized Form DS-3053 Statement of Consent.

Passport applications and Social Security Card applications must be completed and submitted separately.  Links will be provided at the end of the CRBA application.

Emergencies:  If you need the CRBA quickly due to a bona fide emergency, explain the situation to your military passport acceptance agent.  S/he will contact the Consular Section to arrange for emergency service.  Please understand that asking for emergency service simply because you forgot to apply in time not only risks your travel plans but can lengthen the queue for other military families.

Members of the U.S. military on official orders do not need a passport to enter Germany or another country with a Status of Forces Agreement.  (Seehttps://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/docs/GM.cfm.)  Military members can also enter the United States with a copy of their travel orders and military ID.  However, family members do need passports to travel to Germany or back to the United States.

Military dependents on PCS orders and military members who need a passport for official travel may be eligible for an official or no-fee passport. Official and no fee passports may take up to 12 weeks to process.

You may also need a tourist passport if you intend to travel for vacation or other personal reasons.  Each U.S. citizen family member, children and adults, needs his/her own passport.  Regular passports take about three weeks to process.  Don’t forget to review clearance requirements for your destination at https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/.

How to Apply:  All passport applications for military members and dependents are processed through the Military Passport Acceptance Agent at your base personnel office.  The military passport agent can help you complete and submit the application forms.

Forms:  You can get application forms from your military passport acceptance agent, or here.

Fees:  The required fee depends on your age and whether or not you’ve had a passport before.  See here for details.  You must bring a postal money order in the exact amount required when submitting your application to the military passport agent.

Photos:  Passport photo requirements can be found here.

Other Documents:  You need to provide proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A prior passport can serve as proof of both citizenship and identity. Proof of citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate (long form birth certificates, please; abstracts of birth records are not accepted) or a certificate of naturalization. Proof of identity can be an ID issued by the federal government or a state, such as your military ID card or a driver’s license.
Note:  Your military ID is not proof of citizenship, but can be used to prove identity.

Two-Parent Signature Rule:  The law requires that both parents sign the passport application of a child under 16 years of age in front of the military passport acceptance agent.  If one parent cannot appear, s/he can submit a notarized form DS-3053.  The two-parent signature rule does not apply if you have sole custody of the child, but you must provide evidence of sole custody, such as a court decree or the death certificate of the other parent.

Emergencies:  If you need a passport quickly due to a bona fide emergency, explain the situation to your military passport acceptance agent.  S/he will contact the Consular Section to request emergency service.  Please understand that asking for emergency service simply because you forgot to apply in time not only risks your travel plans but can lengthen the queue for other military families.

Official (maroon) passports are issued in Washington to employees of the U.S. Government traveling or on assignment abroad in discharge of their official duties.  When appropriate, dependents of such persons may also be issued official passports.

However, military personnel assigned to countries with which the United States has Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) will not normally receive official passports.  The SOFA allows them to travel on military ID and orders.  Military dependents in SOFA countries may be issued no-fee dependent blue passports.  Military members assigned to SOFA countries may receive official passports if their duties require official travel to countries outside the SOFA-covered region.

No-fee regular (blue) passports may also be issued if a military member needs to travel and there’s not enough time to receive an official passport.

To apply for an official or no-fee regular passport, submit to your military acceptance agent:

  • A completed DS-11 or DS-82 (see “Forms”).
  • Photo.
  • Proof of identity and citizenship.  A prior passport can serve as proof of both citizenship and identity.  Proof of citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate or a certificate of naturalization.  Proof of identity can be an ID issued by the federal government or a state, such as your military ID card or a driver’s license.  Note:  Your military ID is not proof of citizenship.
  • Form DD-1056 (PDF).
  • Assignment orders.

If your family member is not a U.S. citizen, s/he will need an immigrant visa to live with you in the United States.  Your spouse, children and parents may also be eligible for immigration.  Step children (children of your spouse) will qualify if they were under 18 when you married their parent.

Immigration is a two-step process:

  • First, file an I-130 petition for your family member(s).
  • Second, once the I-130 petition is approved, apply for the immigrant visa at the Consular Section in Frankfurt.

Submission of Immigrant Visa Petitions
:

The petition for family members is Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Consular officers at the U.S. Consulate Frankfurt may accept filing of the I-130 filed by qualified U.S. military service members for any immediate relative case, when active duty military service member is stationed permanently at a military base in Germany.  This exception does not apply to service members assigned to non-military bases, such as embassies or civilian institutions, retired service members, or to service members on temporary duty orders.

Evidence of Residence

We require a copy of the petitioner’s orders if he/she is a member of the U.S. military stationed in Germany.

Checklists for Form I-130

Please read the instruction pages attached to the petition carefully and complete all appropriate sections of the form. You may download and use the following checklists for filing your I-130.

I-130 Petition Checklist for Members of the Armed Forces (pdf)
I-130 Petition
I-130A Petition Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary

Supporting Documentation

Do not submit original documents. Only attach legible photocopies of required supporting documentation.

Processing Times

The processing time for an I-130 petition is 120 days. If it has been more than 120 days, you may send an email to FrankfurtIV@state.gov. We ask that you please refrain from contacting this office for status checks while your application is within the 120 day processing time. Your cooperation will help us ensure that we maintain our processing times.

Filing of I-130 Petition

To file Form I-130 at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, please use the following address:

U.S. Consulate General
Immigrant Visa Unit (I-130)
Giessener Str. 30
60435 Frankfurt am Main

 

Applying for an Immigrant Visa: 

Once a petition has been approved, the Immigrant Visa Unit in Frankfurt will contact you with instructions on applying for a visa and the necessary forms your family member will need to complete.  Once all the forms have been completed and all the required documents gathered and submitted, your family member can schedule an appointment for a personal interview at the Consular Section in Frankfurt through our Visa Service Provider. If everything is complete and in order at the interview, the visa will be in your hands within 10 days.  The immigrant visa will normally be valid for 180 days. You can find a more detailed explanation of the process here 

Fees:  There is a filing fee of $535 for the I-130 Petition which has to be submitted with the petition. The visa application fee is $325 can be paid at the Consulate with cash, credit card or money order.  In addition, after visa issuance all applicants must pay USCIS a $220 fee by credit card online to cover the cost of maintaining the immigration file and issuing documents such as the green card.  Information on this fee is available here.

FAQs on Immigrant Visas

 

“Green Cards”

A “green card” (I-551) is issued to legal permanent residents of the United States  You do not apply for a “green card” abroad – you apply for an immigrant visa (see above), and once admitted to the United States as an immigrant you become a “legal permanent resident” and USCIS will send you the card, generally within two months.  You can enter and depart the United States freely with the card and your non-U.S. passport.

But there is an important rule you need to be aware of.  Normally, legal permanent residents cannot remain outside the United States for more than one year.  If you do, you will lose your legal permanent resident status.  This rule does not apply if you are abroad on U.S. government orders, or accompanying a family member who is.

If you lose your green card or it expires while you are outside the United States you can find more information here.

 

A nonimmigrant visa is a visa for someone who wants to go to the United States for a temporary purpose, for example tourism or business or to study.  Military members themselves should be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and don’t need a visa, but family members and local employees of the military may not be, and therefore may need a visa to travel to the United States.

Citizens of some countries, including Germany, traveling for tourism or business may enter the United States without a visa and stay up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program.  Visa waiver travelers must register through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization and receive approval before traveling.

Information on visas for other purposes is available here.

Applying for a nonimmigrant visa:

Complete information on applying for a nonimmigrant visa can be found here.

Important Note:  To qualify for a visa for tourism or business, or for most other purposes, a visa applicant needs to show that s/he is going to be leaving the United States at the end of the authorized stay.  Taking a non-American family member to the United States for a vacation, or for home leave between foreign assignments is probably OK.

But don’t try to get a nonimmigrant visa to go and live in the United States  It may seem quicker and easier than applying for an immigrant visa (see our information on immigrant visa), but (1) we probably won’t issue the visa, so you’ve wasted the application fee, (2) if you lie to get a visa you could be ineligible to get a visa for the rest of your life, (3) if you reach the United States, the immigration officer at the airport may send you right back, and (4) even if you succeed in getting into the United States, adjusting your status is a long and potentially expensive process.

FAQs on Nonimmigrant Visas

Normally, becoming an American citizen is a lengthy process, requiring several years of residence in the United States, and can only be done in the United States.  Special rules apply, however, to active duty members of the military.  If you are on active duty and a legal permanent resident, the U.S. residence requirements can be waived and you may apply through the USCIS office at the Consulate General in Frankfurt.  See the USCIS Frankfurt website or contact your military legal office for further details.

Child Custody
Military families may be surprised to learn that, while resident in Germany, their child custody matters will generally fall under the jurisdiction of German courts, and not U.S. courts.  The Consulate can monitor a case in the German judicial system, but we cannot represent a citizen parent.  You must work through a local attorney, and meet all requirements of German law, such as attending hearings, if required.

While a custody case is ongoing, it is usually required, and certainly recommended, that both parties and their attorneys be present at custody hearings.  This poses a special challenge, not only to military members, but to anyone who may need to transfer or relocate during the case.  If a member of the military is facing transfer during an ongoing case, the member may want to talk to the personnel office about a Tour of Duty extension; otherwise return visits for hearings may be required.

Regardless of nationality or affiliation with the military, taking a child from the family home and out of the country of their present permanent domicile by one parent without the consent of the other parent, will usually be seen as abduction.  Parental child abduction is a Federal crime.

Because Germany and the United States belong to the Hague Abduction Convention, the left-behind parent may file an application for the child to be returned to the country of habitual residence for the custody matter to be settled in that country’s court system.  If the children are residents of Germany, the custody will be settled in German courts regardless of whether the child or  parents are U.S. citizens.  This includes families stationed in Germany with the military or those working as civilians for the military,

The U.S. Consulate General maintains a general list of English-speaking attorneys and also a short list of English-speaking attorneys specializing in custody matters and family law.  Military members may also consult their JAG office to see what services might be available.  We understand that the JAG, in general, does not provide legal services in civil cases, but may be able to offer general guidance and an attorney list.

For further information on child abduction, the Hague Abduction Convention and to access the list of English speaking attorneys please visit the Office of Children’s Issues website at:

http://travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en.html

Deaths
In the case of the death in Germany of a U.S. citizen affiliated with the U.S. military, contact your casualty assistance office as soon as possible.  If the deceased had a German residence permit at the time of death, contact GermanyACS@state.gov or call our Special Consular Services Unit at Tel: 069-7535-2515; Fax 069-7535-2252.

The U.S. Consulate General is responsible for issuing a Consular Report of Death in the case of most U.S. citizen civilians who die abroad.  The Consular Report of Death is accepted in the United States as the legal equivalent of a U.S. state death certificate, and may be needed for insurance or estate purposes.  The death of U.S. citizens in Germany under the Status of Forces Agreement will be documented by the casualty assistance office with a form DD-2064, which serves the same purpose as the Consular Report of Death or a U.S. state death certificate.

For information on eligibility for survivor benefits, contact our Federal Benefits Unit (Social Security) under the direct phone number (069) 905551-103 (English) or (069) 905551-203 (German) Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 11:00 am.

Arrest
If a military member or other person subject to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is arrested in Germany, inquiries should be referred to the appropriate Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (JAG).