The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should consider departing Yemen. The Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure from Yemen of the family members of U.S. Embassy staff and non-essential personnel. This replaces the Travel Warning for Yemen issued October 15, 2010.
Should a crisis occur, evacuation options from Yemen would be extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns outlined below. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in the event of a crisis in Yemen is very limited. In the event of an evacuation, U.S. law requires the Department of State to bill evacuees for U.S.-government arranged transportation. U.S. citizens remaining in Yemen despite this Travel Warning should make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Yemen through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.travel.state.gov, and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information.
The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is also a security threat to maritime activities in the region. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. government remains concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. There is ongoing civil unrest throughout the country and large-scale protests in major cities. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet at www.travel.state.gov.
Providing American citizen services in Yemen is exceedingly difficult. As a consequence of generations of immigration to the United States, and the subsequent return of thousands of U.S. citizens, there is a large (at least 55,000) U.S.-Yemeni community. Many of the U.S. citizens have no connection to the United States except their U.S. passport. Indeed, a large number of the Yemeni-Americans reflect local standards of illiteracy and lack of education. This situation, coupled with the pervasive fraud and a complete lack of reliable civil documents, creates a huge challenge for routine passport and citizenship transactions. Because of these challenges, the embassy uses deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing extensively to determine blood relationships.
One complication of the illiteracy and ignorance is that consular clients usually arrive at the embassy missing the required documents. Another complication is that the applicants often cannot show that the U.S. citizen parent has remained in the United States for the requisite five years in order to transmit citizenship to their children. Finally, fraud is a huge issue, as U.S. citizenship is highly valued in Yemen. Fathers can receive up to $50,000 (45 times the per capita Gross Domestic Product) as a bride price for a U.S.-citizen daughter. As a result, parents often claim children as their own who are in fact from other families, in order to fraudulently document the children as U.S. citizens and use them as a potential source of income.