What does a U.S. consulate do in a foreign country? Few Americans know and probably even fewer foreign citizens understand the services they can find at a U.S. consulate in their home countries. To help educate the people of their community, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. consulate in Hyderabad, India officially launched a new social media platform in a local mall. They called the event “Online to Offline” and showed the public that the consulate does more than process visas. They gave people an opportunity to meet American officers in person and introduced other services they provide. Through this event theU.S. Consulate General, Hyderabad showed the local community how the consulate uses social media to interact with Indian audiences by posting content about the United States, India, and the Indo-U.S. relationship.

Before traveling to the United States, citizens of foreign countries must usually obtain non-immigrant visas for a temporary stay or immigrant visas for permanent residence. Visas are generally stamped or glued into passports. The purpose of a foreigner’s travels determines the type of visa he or she needs. The Department of State, through its consulates overseas, is responsible for issuing visas to foreign citizens. But consulates also help to create strong business and cultural ties with host nations and help Americans abroad in many other ways. U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but to travel abroad they may need a visa issued by the consulateof a country they wish to visit.