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I was born outside the United States to American parents, and am therefore a US citizen (social security number and all). However, apart from short visits, I've never actually lived in the US (nor voted in US elections etc.)

I have a relatively urgent (passport related) issue with the local US embassy. A friend told me it may be beneficial if I could contact my Congressional representative, but as I've never lived in the US I don't know who that would be. The whole "letter-to-your-congressperson" dynamic is also new to me. Should I just pick one? Would they know I'm not actually their constituent?

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    You don't have a Congressman. You are not a constituent of anyone. Just like someone who lives, e.g., in Puerto Rico.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 18, 2022 at 21:21
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    @ohwilleke I think a more interesting example is residents of Washington, DC, who are technically represented in the House, but by a non-voting member, and are not represented in the Senate at all. Add to that the fact that the Congress has great power over the government and operations of the municipality of DC, and they are essentially ruled at the local and federal level by a body that they have no representation in. Sep 19, 2022 at 5:43
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    @ToddWilcox but residents of DC at least have someone they can write to if they have trouble with an executive department. Oh, and so do residents of Puerto Rico, which also has nonvoting representation in the house.
    – phoog
    Sep 19, 2022 at 7:51
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    Your best bet is to work with the local consulate (not embassy, by the way). Yes, a congressman or senator can intervene if there is an issue with a government organization, but if you have no residential ties to the US, it's going to be fun trying to get someone to care. Also, while working with a congressman or senator can be effective, I wouldn't associate "urgent" with their work (think weeks to get something done, not hours or days). If you do want someone to intervene, I'd go with one of the senators from wherever you or your parents last lived
    – Flydog57
    Sep 19, 2022 at 15:11
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    Somewhat complementary question in the wider SE network: Can a US citizen who's never lived in US vote in US?? Sep 20, 2022 at 4:02

2 Answers 2


You would check with the authorities in the state where your parents last lived. Actually, you can write to any congressperson, and they can pay attention to you or ignore you as they like. (This also applies to people who live in the US; if you think a representative other than your own will be more likely to follow your request, you can write to them instead.) The reason it's most common to write to your own representative is that they have a political motivation to consider your request (you are more likely to vote for them if they do what you ask). If you were to vote for a congressperson, that would be in the district where your parents lived (but that is governed by state law).

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    Here's the current list of states that allow citizens born abroad to vote at the last domicile of their parents. Absent from the list are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah. Sep 19, 2022 at 1:53

Although you don’t have a member of Congress, I would recommend that you contact the chair of the subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that oversees your area, for example, “Africa, Health, and Global Human Rights” or “Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation.” (You might also try the ranking member of the other party, if you expect their staffers to be more sympathetic.) You might also have a relative in the United States contact their members of Congress.

You didn’t receive an absentee ballot to vote in the last federal election (or you would know which representative you voted for or against), but as you probably know, you could vote in the Democratic presidential primary, as a Democrat Abroad.

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