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M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 1, Section E – Resources for Claims and Evidence Involving Foreign Residency


In This Section
This section contains the following topics:
Topic Name

1.  Loyalty Clearances


Change Date

June 8, 2018

III.iii.1.E.1.a.Situations in Which VA Requires a Loyalty Clearance

Obtain a loyalty clearance if
  • the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) declares a forfeiture of benefits by reason of a treasonable act under 38 CFR 3.902(d), or
  • it is required in connection with payments to an alien under 38 CFR 3.653(b).

III.iii.1.E.1.b.General Guidelines on When to Request a Loyalty Clearance

Do not routinely request a loyalty clearance merely because the claimant resided in a territory of, or a territory under the control of, an enemy of the U.S. during World War II, unless the claimant resided in the Philippines.
In other than Philippine cases, request a loyalty clearance only if the evidence of record indicates the claimant may have rendered, or was in a position to render, assistance to an enemy of the U.S.
References:  For more information about obtaining loyalty clearances in

III.iii.1.E.1.c.Circumstances Under Which VA Does Not Require a Loyalty Clearance

VA does not require a loyalty clearance because of residence in an enemy-occupied territory for

  • a claimant who was under age 18 at the time hostilities ended in that area
  • a child, regardless of age,
    • who is in the custody of a surviving spouse, and
    • for whom VA is paying benefits to the surviving spouse
  • a claimant who
    • resided in Guam during the Japanese occupation, and
    • provides evidence of continuing residence in a State, as defined in 38 CFR 3.1(i), precluding forfeiture under 38 CFR 3.902(d)(2)
  • a claimant who resided in an enemy-controlled territory and has since become a citizen of the U.S., and/or
  • a claimant who first came into a territory under the former control of an enemy of the U.S. after hostilities ended in that area.
Note:  Naturalized citizens must provide proof of naturalization.  In the absence of evidence to the contrary, presume that the investigation associated with the naturalization proceedings established the loyalty of the claimant.
Reference:  For more information on enemy territories and the dates hostilities ended, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.E.1.d.

III.iii.1.E.1.d.Enemy Territories and the Dates Hostilities Ended
The table below lists enemy territories and the date hostilities ended in each.
Date Hostilities Ended
North Africa
May 13, 1943
August 17, 1943
Continental Europe
May 7, 1945
Middle East
May 7, 1945
Areas occupied by Japanese forces
July 4, 1945

III.iii.1.E.1.e.Information Required From a Claimant to Obtain a Loyalty Clearance

In all original claims (except Philippine cases), if a loyalty clearance is required under M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.E.1.ab, and c, ask the claimant for the following information:
  • name of the person in question, including
    • family name
    • first name
    • middle name
    • maiden name in the case of a married female, and
    • any other name or names the person might have used
  • date and place of birth
  • date and place of all marriages
  • former and present nationality, and
  • all addresses and dates of residence in foreign countries.
Reference:  For information about obtaining loyalty clearances in Philippine cases, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.E.1.g.

III.iii.1.E.1.f.Information to Request From the Office of Special Consular Services

Through appropriate correspondence with the Office of Special Consular Services, Department of State, request assistance in obtaining any evidence as to whether or not the claimant
  • has ever been found guilty of the offenses in 38 U.S.C. 6104, or
  • was a member of the Fascist or Nazi parties, including
    • information as to whether such membership was discontinued and, if so,
    • the date of discontinuation of membership.

III.iii.1.E.1.g.  Obtaining a Loyalty Clearance in Philippine Cases

If a loyalty clearance is required in a Philippine case
Note:  A report from these sources that no derogatory information is available relative to the guilt of the claimant or the Veteran will sustain a presumption of innocence for adjudicative purposes or until evidence is received indicating guilt of one of the offenses in 38 U.S.C. 6104.
Reference:  For more information on obtaining loyalty information in Philippine cases, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 4.C.5.

III.iii.1.E.1.h.  Action to Take When Records Indicate an Investigation Is Underway

When records show the Department of State has already initiated an investigation under 38 U.S.C. 6104
  • do not make a specific request for such investigation, and
  • establish local control for receipt of the report.

2.  Authentication of Foreign Documents Under 38 CFR 3.202


This topic contains information about the authentication of foreign documents under 38 CFR 3.202, including

Change Date

February 28, 2019

III.iii.1.E.2.a.When Authentication of a Foreign Document Is Required

Except as provided in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.E.2.b, if an affidavit or document is executed by or before an official in a foreign country, the signature of that official must be authenticated by
  • a U.S. consular officer in that jurisdiction, or
  • the Department of State.

III.iii.1.E.2.b.When Authentication of a Foreign Document Is Not Required

Authentication of a foreign document is not required if
  • the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), submitted and approved the document
  • the attesting officer is authorized to administer oaths for general purposes and the document bears that officer’s signature and seal
  • the document is executed before a VA employee located in a foreign country who is authorized to administer oaths, or
  • a copy of a public or church record from any foreign country purports to establish birth, marriage, divorce, or death, provided
    • the record bears the signature and seal of the custodian of such record, and
    • there is no reason to doubt the correctness of information shown on the record.

III.iii.1.E.2.c.Requesting Authentication of Foreign Documents at the Pittsburgh, RO or Philadelphia PMC

The Pittsburgh Regional Office (RO) and Philadelphia Pension Management Center (PMC) send requests for authentication of foreign documents directly to the embassy or consulate of the country in which the document was created.
Exception:  The ROs send requests for authentication of documents that originated in Canada to VAC.
  • All foreign claims for compensation will be routed to and worked at the Pittsburgh RO (311).  This includes legacy appeals, work items, and non-rating end products.
  • All foreign claims for pension will be routed to and worked by the Philadelphia PMC (310).
  • Send e-mail inquiries concerning the addresses of foreign embassies or consulates and the services they perform toVAVBAWAS/CO/OUTREACH.

III.iii.1.E.2.d.Requesting Authentication of Foreign Documents at All Other ROs

To request authentication of a foreign document at ROs other than the Pittsburgh RO or Philadelphia PMC
  • prepare a request for the signature of the Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM)
  • scan the request and foreign document into a digital format, and
  • e-mail the request and foreign document to the Benefits Assistance Service (BAS) at VAVBAWAS/CO/OUTREACH.
  • BAS forwards the request for authentication to the appropriate Foreign Service post.
  • E-mail inquiries concerning the services foreign consulates or embassies perform to VAVBAWAS/CO/OUTREACH.

III.iii.1.E.2.e.Action to Take When the BAS Is Unable to Obtain Authentication

If BAS is unable to obtain authentication of a foreign document
  • return the document to the claimant, and
  • advise him/her that VA can take no further action on his/her claim until he/she submits acceptable documentation.

3.  Translation of Foreign Correspondence and Documents


This topic contains information on the translation of foreign correspondence and documents, including

Change Date

June 8, 2018

III.iii.1.E.3.a.Referrals for Translation of Foreign Documents Within the Local RO

A document written in any language other than English shall be referred to an employee in the local RO or an approved translation company who is deemed qualified by the Director and/or VSCM.  This includes the following document(s) that could possibly contain foreign language:
If the RO employee provides translation, the employee must certify its accuracy by signing and dating a written statement to this effect.
When routing the request to an approved translation company
  • make a copy of the document(s) to be translated
  • annotate the claims folder to show the document(s) is/are being translated, and
  • update the claim level suspense to show the request is pending with translations.
Reference:  For more information on how to annotate a document in the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), see VBMS Core User Guide.

III.iii.1.E.3.b.Action to Take When Translation is Not Obtainable Using Local Resources

If local resources do not exist for translation of a document written in a foreign language, follow the steps in the table below to request translation through the Pittsburgh RO.
Identify in VBMS each document that requires translation by insertingNeeds Translated by each document on the NOTES screen.
Prepare an encrypted e-mail that contains the following information in the body of the e-mail:
  • Veteran’s name and claim number
  • name of the language from which translation is required
  • number of documents requiring translation, and
  • an indication as to whether or not priority processing is required.
In the subject line of the e-mail, enter Documents in Need of Translation.
Send the e-mail to
  • Normal processing time for a request for translation is 10 days.
  • Priority processing time is dependent upon the type of language and the number of documents that require translation.
  • When translation is complete, the Pittsburgh RO
    • uploads the translated documents into VBMS, and
    • notifies the RO that requested the translation.

4.  Claims from Residents of Countries on the Treasury Department List Under 38 CFR 3.653


This topic contains information on claims from residents of countries on the Treasury Department list under 38 CFR 3.653, including

Change Date

February 28, 2019

III.iii.1.E.4.a.Countries on the Treasury Department List

The Treasury Department maintains a list of countries to which it will not send a Treasury check because there is no reasonable assurance the payee will actually receive and be able to negotiate the check for full value.
The countries to which the Treasury Department will not send a Treasury check are
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and
  • Republic of Cuba (Cuba).
References:  For information on the

III.iii.1.E.4.b.Correspondence With Persons in Listed Countries

There is no prohibition against development and adjudication of claims filed by persons residing in listed countries.  ROs may send correspondence to individuals living in the listed countries even if there is reasonable doubt they will receive the mail.
Note:  In correspondence issued outside VA, use the term “listed” countries.  Donot use the terms “Iron Curtain” or “blocked” country.

III.iii.1.E.4.c.Developing Claims From Residents of Listed Countries

Currently, the Department of State does not maintain offices in most of the countries on the Treasury Department list.
Develop and adjudicate a claim if a claimant residing in a listed country, on his/her own initiative
  • requests that benefit payments
    • bear a foreign address in a country that is not on the list, and
    • be sent via direct deposit, or
  • specifies
    • the Foreign Service post to which VA should send benefit checks, and
    • that the claimant will take delivery of the checks at the Foreign Service post in person.
Note:  Limit claims development to listed countries without a State Department office to direct correspondence with the claimant only.

III.iii.1.E.4.d.When to Deny a Claim From a Person Residing in a Listed Country

Deny a claim for VA benefits if

5.  Services the Department of State Provides


This topic contains information on services the Department of State provides, including

Change Date

October 27, 2017

III.iii.1.E.5.a.Expenses Associated With Services the Department of State Provides

The Department of State generally provides services through consular officers at American embassies and consulates, including investigation in foreign countries, without cost to VA.
The Department of State informs VA if an expense will be incurred.

III.iii.1.E.5.b.Services Consular Officers May Provide

Consular officers may
  • furnish general information and assistance, including assistance to claimants, beneficiaries, and apportionees, in the preparation of applications for benefits
  • inspect and approve institutions for pursuit of courses of study by children between the ages of 18 and 23
  • investigate and develop claims at VA’s request and perform other services in connection with a claim
  • administer oaths for VA purposes
  • take action at the request of the Under Secretary for Benefits or his/her designee on matters involving guardianship, and
  • make arrangements for physical examinations.
Reference:  For more information on ROs that are responsible for processing foreign claims and contacting the consular officers, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.E.2.c.
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