Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘American Passport’

9th February 2017

In the aftermath of the new year, there have been many announcements which have had significant impacts upon those living outside the USA. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States is poised to begin certifying delinquent taxes and communicating such certification to the United States Department of State. To quote the official IRS website directly:

The IRS has not yet started certifying tax debt to the State Department. Certifications to the State Department will begin in early 2017…If you have seriously delinquent tax debt, IRC § 7345 authorizes the IRS to certify that to the State Department. The [State] department generally will not issue or renew a passport to you after receiving certification from the IRS…Upon receiving certification, the State Department may revoke your passport. If the department decides to revoke it, prior to revocation, the department may limit your passport to return travel to the U.S.

As of January 1, 2016 US Federal statutes were amended to allow US passport revocation for those individuals who were delinquent in taxes under statutorily defined circumstances. Notwithstanding the fact that this law had been promulgated, it appears that until now the IRS had not put a frame work in place for notifying the State Department that an individual had tax delinquency issues. As can be seen from the IRS’s own website, that is no longer the case moving forward. For this reason it is prudent for those who may have tax delinquency issues to retain the services of a competent professional in order to rectify such issues before a situation arises where one is unable to get a passport issued, or a passport is revoked either in the USA or while traveling abroad.

Meanwhile, it appears that authorities in Thailand have adjusted the tax structure for certain taxpayers in Thailand. To quote directly from the Bangkok Post:

A revamped personal income tax structure aimed at increasing disposable incomes for taxpayers has officially come into effect…The amendment to the Tax Code, published in the Royal Gazette on Jan 27, applies to incomes received from Jan 1, 2017 to be filed in 2018…

It appears that under the restructure individuals will be able to make larger deductions for certain expenses while certain filing requirements have been changed requiring a larger number of individuals to file taxes. Those interested in these developments are strongly encouraged to read the article cited above and consult appropriate professionals in order to be apprised of the posture of a given tax situation.

Finally, The United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand has recently increased their official exchange rate to 37-1 (baht to dollars). This change reflects the fact that the Baht has been weakening against the US dollar in recent months and may be a signal that said currency may weaken further. The US Embassy in Thailand utilizes a set exchange rate which provides a level of certainty regarding the cost (in baht terms) of service fees for services provided by the US Embassy personnel.

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5th December 2015

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal a new bill proposed by the United States Congress was discussed:

Under a new law expected to take effect in January, the State Department will block Americans with “seriously delinquent” tax debt from receiving new passports and will be allowed to rescind existing passports of people who fall into that category. The list of affected taxpayers will be compiled by the Internal Revenue Service using a threshold of $50,000 of unpaid federal taxes, including penalties and interest, which would be adjusted for inflation.

Clearly this proposed legislation could have significant ramifications for Americans living abroad. Presently, Americans abroad could only see their passports rescinded or applications for renewals denied where said applicants have outstanding criminal warrants in the United States of America or are delinquent on their child support. The proposed legislation comes after the relatively recent  implementation of FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) which requires foreign banking institutions to report the financial activities of American citizens making financial transactions abroad. There have been some who disapprove of FATCA and there have been moves made in the US Federal Court to challenge the law’s constitutionality. However, at present the law remains part of the current American legal framework with respect to overseas bank accounts. As a possible consequence, in recent years there have been a growing number of individuals who have opted to renounce their United States Citizenship. It is clear that more and more people are opting to renounce their United States Citizenship. Each individual’s renunciation is likely based upon a different calculus, but it seems clear that recent changes to American tax policy have had a significant impact upon Americans living abroad.

The recent announcement that passports could be revoked as a consequence of tax delinquency seems likely to cause the number of Citizenship renunciations to increase. Although, it remains to be seen if this new policy will have a significant impact upon renunciations. Regardless of the fact that 50,000 USD seems like a substantial amount of money it will be interesting to see if the proposed legislation will allow for a form of COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) style system whereby the amount of money in tax delinquency which would trigger a passport renunciation would increase year by year in order to track inflation. It is unlikely that such a scheme would be implemented because Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) requirements have not changed since the late 70′s. Therefore it stands to reason that the passport issuance requirements will stay frozen. Therefore, this legislation, although unlikely to have a significant impact upon Americans abroad anytime soon could have serious ramifications for Americans in 15-20 years time when 50,000 USD is not the representation of wealth that it is today.

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10th August 2013

Millions of people around the world wish to take up residence in the United States of America and often wish to become American Citizens. However, it would appear that some Americans are cutting ties with the USA and renouncing their United States Citizenship. Names of all those Americans who renounce their United States Citizenship are recorded and published in the United States Federal Register. These lists are generally not particularly newsworthy. However, in the most recent quarterly publication regarding US Citizenship renunciation it would appear that the number of Americans renouncing their United States Citizenship has jumped by over 60% when compared to previous quarters. In the last quarter 1,131 people renounced their United States Citizenship. This number is a large increase from the previous quarter which saw only 679 renunciation. Although, when compared against the same quarter of the previous year which saw only 188 renunciations the 1,811 figure is rather staggering. Is this simply a one-time anomaly or is this the sign of a growing trend?

While some are speculating as to what this trend means in a broad socio-economic context, I feel that some analysis is necessary to put some perspective on these numbers. A reader looking at the Federal Register’s official posting regarding these numbers will likely note the following information:

For purposes of this listing, long-term residents, as defined in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship.

The casual reader may wonder: what does this mean? Well to quote directly from the Cornell Law School’s website which lists sections 877 (e)(1) and 877(e)(2):

(1) In general

Any long-term resident of the United States who ceases to be a lawful permanent resident of the United States (within the meaning of section 7701 (b)(6)) shall be treated for purposes of this section and sections 2107, 2501, and 6039G in the same manner as if such resident were a citizen of the United States who lost United States citizenship on the date of such cessation or commencement.

(2) Long-term resident

For purposes of this subsection, the term “long-term resident” means any individual (other than a citizen of the United States) who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States in at least 8 taxable years during the period of 15 taxable years ending with the taxable year during which the event described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) occurs. For purposes of the preceding sentence, an individual shall not be treated as a lawful permanent resident for any taxable year if such individual is treated as a resident of a foreign country for the taxable year under the provisions of a tax treaty between the United States and the foreign country and does not waive the benefits of such treaty applicable to residents of the foreign country.

Therefore, based upon the information provided by the Federal Register and the United States statutes noted above some of those listed in the Federal Register as those renouncing their Citizenship could be United States Lawful Permanent Residents (colloquially referred to as “Green Card” holders) who have chosen to give up their permanent resident status. This explanation probably does not account for all of the “Citizenship renunciations” listed in the recent Federal Register publication, but it may account for some of these numbers. In any event, the number of those expatriating from the United States remains high compared to previous points in American history. The question remains, why are higher numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship?

There are some who contend that the recent spike in citizenship renunciation may stem from American policy regarding taxation of United States Citizens living abroad. American Citizens (as well as lawful permanent residents) are taxed on their worldwide income, regardless of where they physically reside. This situation is in stark contrast to the tax policies of virtually every other country in the world as most countries only tax those of their citizenry who reside in their country. There are exceptions to the previous statement as issues such as domicile play into many countries’ foreign taxation policies. Many feel that the recent increases in the number of renunciations is driven by Americans with high foreign derived incomes seeking to rid themselves of the need to pay American taxes. In a major story from last year it was noted that one of the founders of Facebook had renounced his United States Citizenship before the IPO of that company’s stock. It should be noted that some argue that his tax obligations at that time may not have actually decreased as a result of his decision to give up his citizenship (due to American tax laws such as the so-called “Expatriation Tax” or “Exit Tax”), although his future tax liabilities may be reduced as a result of that decision. Perhaps more Americans are taking the (somewhat drastic) step of renouncing their citizenship in order to save some money from the tax man. Without knowing each former-American’s motivations for renouncing United States Citizenship we are left to speculate.

There may be another impetus behind the recent increase in the number of Americans renouncing their Citizenship: the FATCA. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) compels financial institutions outside of the United States to report information about accounts maintained by American Citizens or lawful permanent residents to the Internal Revenue Service. Furthermore, foreign financial institutions are also required to report on accounts maintained by foreign corporations in which Americans or Lawful Permanent Residents own a significant interest. The FATCA’s implementation has been pushed back until July of 2014. Could the looming specter of the FATCA be the reason for the recent uptick in American’s renouncing their citizenship? One of the many upshots of the FATCA is the fact that the regulatory requirements imposed by the American government on foreign banking and financial institutions can be rather burdensome. One way that these foreign institutions can relieve themselves of these burdens is by refusing to accept American customers. If there are no Americans holding accounts at a given foreign bank, then the bank does not necessarily have to comply with the provisions of the FATCA. This has lead to a situation where more and more overseas banks are refusing to provide services to Americans living and working abroad. By renouncing United States Citizenship and naturalizing to the Citizenship of another country a former American could bank in much the same manner as other foreign nationals.

The decision to renounce one’s U.S. Citizenship is a significant one and should not me made lightly. There are many benefits to being an American Citizen so those thinking of renouncing their Citizenship should review not only their tax situation, but also the intangible and tangible benefits of their American citizenship (including the US Passport). Will this trend continue? It remains to be seen, but there are many who feel that as American oversight of global taxation matters becomes more ubiquitous there will be more American’s who question the value of their citizenship.

–Benjamin W. Hart is an American attorney who resides in Bangkok, Thailand.

For related information please see: Citizenship Renunciation.

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12th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the often venerated alternative media outlet ZeroHedge.com has posted an analysis of issues pertaining to a proposed change to the forms used by those seeking a US Passport. To provide further insight it is necessary  to quote directly from the Zero Hedge website, ZeroHedge.com

In the US, the government now requires all citizens to have a passport in order to pass the border, even when driving into Mexico or Canada. Obtaining a passport, however, is neither free nor guaranteed.  You must apply, pay an ever-increasing fee, and wait for weeks to be approved and receive it. Recently, the State Department quietly proposed a new ‘biographical questionnaire’ in lieu of the traditional passport application. The new form requires you to provide things like:

- names, birth places, and birth dates of your extended family members
– your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
– whether or not your mother received pre-natal or post natal care
– the address of your mother’s physician and dates of appointments
– the address of every place you have ever lived in your entire life
– the name and address of every school you have ever attended

Most people would find it impossible to provide such information, yet the form requires that the responses ‘are true and correct’ under penalty of imprisonment. Naturally, the privacy statement on the application also acknowledges that the responses can be shared with other departments in the government, including Homeland Security. If this proposal passes, then US citizens will have a nearly insurmountable hurdle to obtain a passport and be able to leave the country at will…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted prior to this excerpt. Also, it is advisable to click upon the hyperlinks contained within this quotation in order to understand this situation in context.

Each year, many Americans traveling abroad, or those Americans resident abroad, renew their passport at an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. It has always been this blogger’s opinion that personnel of the Department of State who handle such matters do so in an efficient and courteous manner. Meanwhile, many United States Citizens opt to seek passport renewal in the USA. This blogger has undertaken both endeavors and in each case the officers involved processed the request quickly and with little difficulty. Although it remains to be seen how the proposed questionnaire would actually impact the processing of passport issuance requests one can hope that the process will not become overly cumbersome.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a woman in the sovereign State of New York is challenging the legal status and Constitutionality of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide the reader with some relevant insight it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Mark Hamblett for the New York Law Journal posted on Law.com:

Challengers to the federal Defense of Marriage Act insist that every justification offered by Congress for defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman is contrary to logic and the law. In summary judgment papers filed in the Southern District of New York, lawyers for Edith Schlain Windsor argue that there is no good reason for treating her marriage to the late Thea Clara Spyer any differently than a heterosexual union. Read Ms. Windsor’s motion and memorandum. Ms. Windsor’s lawyers call the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a radical measure and a clear violation of the right to equal protection of the laws under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “DOMA is a sweeping statute that rewrites over one thousand federal laws and overturns the federal government’s long-standing practice of deferring to state determinations of marital status,” the lawyers claim in a memorandum asking Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV for summary judgment in the case of Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435. “Throughout history, the federal government has never married people, leaving that to the states…”

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read about this case in detail.

Those unfamiliar with the current predicament of the LGBT community should note that in immigration matters same sex bi-national couples, even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions, are unable to petition for the same immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. In order to attempt to remedy this particular discrepancy Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The Respect for Marriage Act was also introduced by Representative Nadler in order to remedy the issue of “certainty” in such cases. As of the time of this writing, neither of these bills has seen enactment although there has been recent news that the Senate Judiciary Committee may be holding hearings pertaining to the Respect for Marriage Act soon. On a related note, the Reuniting Families Act, which apparently includes UAFA-like language, was lately introduced by Representative Mike Honda although passage of this legislation remains to be seen.

There is certainly an “equal protection” component to any argument against DOMA, but relatively few commentators seem to take note of the fact that the way DOMA is currently enforced may also violate notions of States’ Rights. Generally, matters pertaining to the prerogatives of the Several States are debated by the United States Congress before enactment of legislation which maintains interstate compliance with the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. In this case, Congress has arguably abrogated the notion of Full Faith and Credit inherent in the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause since section 3 of DOMA effectively renders the prerogatives of the sovereign States ineffective when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage.

The issues associated with DOMA have yet to be fully resolved, but it seems likely that these matters may remain contentious both inside the Courtrooms of America and elsewhere.

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6th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been noted by various media outlets for launching a new ad campaign to encourage those present in the United States as lawful permanent residents to naturalize to American Citizenship. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is best to quote directly from the website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

NEW YORK – The US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched its first ever paid ad campaign urging roughly 7.9 million green card holders to become naturalized citizens. The $3.5 million multilingual campaign will be used for three years and is part of an $11 million allotment from Congress meant to promote integration of immigrants. This year’s campaign in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese will run in print, radio and digital formats between May 30 and Sept 5, primarily in states with large immigrant populations, such as California, New York, Florida and Texas. ”You’ve got to create that sense of urgency, and until they’ve reached that sense of urgency, they’ll just coast,” Nathan Stiefel, division chief of policy and programs for the Office of Citizenship at USCIS, told the Associated Press…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to American immigration it should be noted that those who enter the United States of America on a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa are accorded lawful permanent residence (also colloquially referred to as Green Card status). After spending a specified period of time physically present in the United States it may be possible for an immigrant to naturalize to American citizenship. There are many benefits to be had by undergoing the naturalization process including, but not limited to: the right to vote, the right to a US Passport, as well as the various privileges and/or immunities of citizenship. Those interested in learning if they are eligible for such benefits are encouraged to contact a licensed American attorney.

In somewhat unrelated news, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Japan is apparently preparing to conduct tests on various nuclear facilities in that country. For further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Channel News Asia website at ChannelNewsAsia.com:

TOKYO : Japan said Wednesday it will run “stress tests” on all its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The ongoing crisis, the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, has ignited debate in Japan about the safety of nuclear power, which before the disaster accounted for a third of its electricity needs. The centre-left government ordered a round of initial tests on the country’s other atomic power plants after the disaster, and said the new stress tests aimed to reassure the public that the facilities are safe…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click on the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those unfamiliar with the ongoing situation in Japan it should be noted that an Earthquake which occurred in March of this year resulted in a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima facility noted above. This situation had tremendous ramifications for both the Asia-Pacific region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As this tragic state of affairs continues to play out it is hoped that positive endeavors can mitigate some of the damage caused by this disaster. No doubt the Japanese citizenry remain in the hearts and minds of conscientious people the world over.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

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12th September 2010

Frequently the administration of this blog posts the holiday closing schedules of various American Embassies and Consulates located abroad in an effort to forestall fruitless trips by American travelers to a US Embassy or US Consulate which is closed in observance of an American or local holiday. The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Embassy in Mauritius:

New Year

Thursday, January 1

Mauritian/U.S.

New Year (observed)

Friday, January 2

Mauritian

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 18

U.S.

Thaipoosam Cavadee Saturday, January 30 Mauritian
Abolition of Slavery Monday, February 1 Mauritian

Maha Shivratree

Friday, February 12

Mauritian

Chinese Spring Festival Sunday, February 14 Mauritian

Washington’s Birthday

Monday, February 15

U.S.

National Day

Friday, March 12

Mauritian

Ougadi

Tuesday, March 16

Mauritian

Labor Day

Saturday, May 1

Mauritian

Memorial Day

Monday, May 31

U.S.

Independence Day*

Monday, July 5

U.S.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sunday, August 15

Mauritian

Labor Day

Monday, September 6

U.S.

Eid-Ul-Fitr**

Friday, September 10

Mauritian

Ganesh Chathurthi Sunday, September 12 Mauritian

Columbus Day

Monday, October 11

U.S.

Arrival of Indentured Laborers

Tuesday, November 2

Mauritian

Divali Friday, November 5 Mauritian

Veterans Day

Thursday, November 11

U.S.

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, November 25

U.S

Christmas Day***

Friday,  December 24

U.S.

Christmas Day Saturday, December 25 Mauritian

* July 4, 2010 (the legal public holiday for Independence Day) falls on a Sunday, therefore Monday, July 5 will be the public holiday.

**The exact date of this festival will depend on the visibility of the moon.

*** December 25, 2010 (the legal public holiday for Christmas Day) falls on a Saturday, therefore Friday, December 24 will be the public holiday for the U.S.

There are a rather large number of services which Americans and foreign nationals seek from American Missions abroad. Those seeking Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, US passport renewal, addition of visa pages, or notarial services are well advised to contact an American Citizen Services Section of an American Embassy or Consulate. Furthermore, those seeking the aforementioned services are encouraged to check the US Embassy or US Consulate website in order to ascertain if appointments can be booked online. Booking an appointment with American Citizen Services is an effective way of minimizing difficulties at a Post and streamlining the processing of requests as American Consular Personnel are put on notice of the customer’s request and can thereby make preparations to provide assistance.

Those seeking an American visa abroad are well advised to contact an American Embassy directly in order to inquire as to the procedures for making a visa interview appointment. Generally, the protocols for making an immigrant visa appointment differ from the procedures which one must adhere to when booking a non-immigrant visa appointment. Generally, for purposes of making a visa appointment, the K1 visa is considered to be an immigrant visa.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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28th June 2010

On this blog we regularly post information of general interest to Americans or prospective immigrants seeking services at American Embassies or Consulates abroad. The following is the posted holiday closing schedule for the United States Consulate-General in Guangzhou, China. The following is a direct quotation from the US Embassy in China’s website:

We are CLOSED on the following American and Chinese holidays.

Date

Weekday

Holiday

Nation

January 1 Friday New Year’s Day US & China
January 18 Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday US
February 13 - 17 Saturday – Wednesday Chinese (Lunar) New Year China
February 15 Monday President’s Day US
April 5 Monday Tomb Sweeping Day China
May 1 – 3 Saturday – Monday International Labor Day China
May 31 Monday Memorial Day US
June 16 Wednesday Dragon Boat Festival China
July 5 Monday Independence Day US
September 6 Monday Labor Day US
September 22 Wednesday Mid-Autumn Festival China
October 1 – 5 Friday - Tuesday Chinese National Day China
October 11 Monday Columbus Day US
November 11 Thursday Veterans’ Day US
November 25 Thursday Thanksgiving Day US
December 24 Friday Christmas Day US
December 31 Friday New Year’s Day (2011)

Holiday closure schedules can be very important for Americans as there often arise situations in which an American believes that the closest US Embassy or US Consulate will be open for business when, in fact, the Embassy or Consulate is closed for a holiday in the host country or one of the more obscure US holidays. This author has personally been the victim of this problem when traveling to the US Embassy in Bangkok and realizing that the Embassy was closed for American Veterans Day. To save others time and  frustration, we try to post these lists so that travelers can plan accordingly.

Many Americans traveling overseas find that they need the assistance of an American Citizen Services (ACS) section of an American Embassy or Consulate overseas. Many find that they need ACS to produce a replacement US passport, add visa pages, or, in some cases, more serious matters must be dealt with that can only be executed by an American Consular Officer.

In situations where a prospective immigrant to the United States wishes to set a visa interview appointment for a K1 visa, a K3 visa, a CR1 visa, or an IR1 visa it may be best if the applicant makes an appointment prior to traveling to the Post in order to be sure that the Post is functioning upon arrival. This is also the case for those seeking a non-immigrant visa such as a B1 visa, B2 visa, F1 visa, or J1 visa. Interviews for these types of travel documents are usually scheduled in advance, but it is recommended that one contact the post prior to interview in order to be fully apprised as to the pertinent protocols.

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5th March 2010

Recently we reported on this blog that the fees associated with passport issuance are likely to be increased in the near future. In a recent press release Brenda S. Sprague, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services, discussed the proposed fee increase and the policy reasons underlying the American State Department’s proposal for an increase in fees associated with American passports:

“Over the last five years, the demand for passports has increased to an average of 15 million applications per year. On February 9th, the State Department published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase certain fees related to U.S. passport and passport card applications. The proposed fee change is based on a comprehensive cost-ofservices study, completed in June, 2009, that was the most detailed and exhaustive study the U.S. State Department has ever conducted of its for-fee services, and updates the schedule of fees from four years ago.”

Many who are reading about this fee increase for the first time are probably wondering what the cost of passports would be under the recent proposed rule:

“Under the proposed fee schedule, the total cost for a first-time applicant aged 16 and older, who is applying for a passport book will be have $135. For those younger than 16, the price will be $105. The cost of a passport card for a first-time applicant 16 or older is $55. And for those younger than age 16, the price is $40. Passport books and cards for people who are 16 or older are valid for 10 years, books and cards issued to individuals younger than 16 are available for five years.”

When discussing this issue with American expatriates in Thailand, the initial reaction regarding this fee increase is: what are they increasing the fess and what will the new funding be used for? Hopefully the following excerpt will shed light on this issue:

“Passport fees are critically important to our keeping up with the latest developments in technology. Research and development, production, and implementation of new technologies for use in our U.S. passport books and cards must be an ongoing priority if we are to keep one step ahead of the resourceful and technologically savvy criminals, terrorists groups, and subversive elements bent on doing our nation harm. The fees cover the costs of fraud prevention initiatives such as facial recognition to help us to detect look-alike fraud and data-sharing programs that permit us to verify the validity of social security numbers, driver’s licenses, birth records, and naturalization certificates. Passport fees also help to cover the costs of providing emergency services for American citizens overseas in crises situations, something that our U.S. citizens stranded in Haiti undoubtedly appreciated.”

This issue is of critical importance to those who have American Citizen children outside of the USA. In Thailand, the usual protocol at the US Embassy in Bangkok or the US Consulate in Chiang Mai is for an American Citizen to first apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. After this document is obtained from the American Citizen Services Section of the US Consulate in Bangkok, then a passport can be issued. However, the recently proposed rule would also increase the fees associated with Consular Reports of Birth Abroad as well. That being said, the rule has yet to be adopted as there is still an official comment period so these issues have yet to be fully resolved, but it is highly likely that the rule will be implemented and the fees will be raised apparently in an to reflect what the State Department claims are the increased costs of promulgating these travel documents.

For information about American Immigration from Thailand please see: US Visa Thailand.

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26th November 2009

In recent months, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been in the news as he evades requests for extradition from the Kingdom of Thailand. The website Thaivisa.com is reporting the following:

“Thaksin’s name in passports issued by Nicaragua, Uganda and Montenegro has been changed to “Takki Shinegra,” he said. The Thai government has revoked Thaksin’s diplomatic passport issued during his premiership. He was believed to have an ordinary Thai passport. Some African countries have issued him a special passport to facilitate his travels and his visit to the countries. [Vice Foreign Minister] Panich said Thaksin’s new name may cause problem for Thailand’s attempt to bring him back to face two-year jail term on charge of corruption.” [sic]

The change of Mr. Thaksin’s name is a major obstacle for those who wish to make him return to Thailand. Thaivisa.com further quotes Mr. Panich:

“Problems can happen when we ask foreign countries to extradite him. We name him in our request as Thaksin Shinawatra but when those countries check his presence, they would not find him because he used different name.” [sic]

The issue of dual nationality and different names is not exclusively the problem of Thai authorities. Many people around the world have dual nationality and in many cases, they have different names depending upon their country of Citizenship. This can create a great deal of consternation for Immigration officials.

Dual nationality is not, in and of itself, a problem for those wishing to obtain US or Thai Immigration benefits. However, it can raise many issues with regard to the identity of the individual seeking the immigration benefit. For example, if an individual is born in Hong Kong under one name, but later takes Australian nationality under another name, then that individual’s birth certificate will not likely match his or her Australian passport. This can lead to problems with Immigration authorities as two names can cause confusion and lead to increased scrutiny.

When petitioning for Immigration benefits in any country, it is often required that the applicant divulge any aliases that they may have. For those applying for a Thailand visa or an American visa this is often required and failure to note an alias could result in relatively serious sanctions.

Many countries allow their citizens to have aliases noted in their passport. For United States Citizens, this is definitely a possibility, but requires approval of  an application to have a different name noted in a US passport. For those resident in Thailand, it is possible to have an alias noted in a US passport, but one must submit an application to the Consular Officer at the American Citizen Services section of the US Embassy in Bangkok or the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. US Embassies and Consulates elsewhere can perform this service as well. Thai Consulates and Embassies could also note aliases in one’s Thai passport, but one must check with the Consulate beforehand as not all posts are able to complete this task.

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