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Posts Tagged ‘US passports’

14th June 2021

It recently came to this blogger’s attention via the website of the US Embassy in Thailand that there is a new policy in place regarding the expired passports of US Citizens. To quote directly from the aforementioned website:

U.S. citizens may directly return to the United States with certain expired U.S. passports.

If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021.

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • Your expired passport is undamaged.
  • Your expired passport is unaltered.
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.

You do not qualify for this exception if:

  • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination.
  • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
  • Your expired passport was limited in validity.
  • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
  • Your expired passport is damaged.
  • Your expired passport is altered.
  • Your expired passport is not in your possession…

This is a major departure from standard procedures regarding American passports. Those keenly interested in this issue are advised to click the link above to read the entire announcement. Clearly, the United States Embassy in Thailand is attempting to provide solutions to Americans abroad who have seen their passports expire as the duration of the Thai government’s response to the COVID situation drags on. Although this is something of an “ad hoc” initiative the State Department’s policy is laudable as it creates flexibility for many Americans abroad who otherwise would be unable to return home.

Meanwhile, Thai Immigration policy continues to evolve. There has been significant progress made with regard to the proposed “Phuket Sandbox” initiative which, once implemented, would allow travelers to be admitted to Phuket, Thailand without being required to quarantine in their hotel for 14 days. However, there are been a number of developments in recent weeks which appear both positive and negative. For example, the following was noted in a recent article on ThaiVisa.com:

Over 50 percent of foreigners who had confirmed they would visit Phuket as part of the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ project have now cancelled their plans, Thailand’s tourism minister has said. Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, told Spring News that after the Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) increased the minimum period of stay from 7 days to 14 days, 29,700 foreigners have now cancelled plans to visit Phuket. Under the Phuket Sandbox scheme, vaccinated foreigners do not need to be quarantined in a hotel room, but they are required to remain in Phuket before travelling to other provinces in Thailand…

The fluidity of regulations pertaining to the sandbox initiative seems to be alienating a number of otherwise interested travelers. Meanwhile, ThaiVisa.com went on to note that:

The Phuket Sandbox project, the launch of which is best described as chaotic, suffered another blow last week after it was announced that bars and pubs in Phuket would remain closed when the first tourists start arriving from July 1.

It seems immigration and quarantine policy are not the only obstacles standing in the way of substantial tourist numbers returning. It should be noted that the Phuket initiative has yet to be brought online so it remains to be seen if the “sandbox” plan will actually be implemented. It seems prudent to infer based upon comments from relevant Thai government officials that the sandbox program will be implemented. However, the popularity of such a plan remains to be seen. Presently, those arriving in other parts of Thailand, including Bangkok and Chiang Mai, are required to undergo 14 days of alternative state quarantine (ASQ) before being released. This quarantine pertains not only to foreign tourists, but also to those entering Thailand on non-immigrant visas such as the business visa, retirement visa, marriage visa as well as Thai nationals and permanent residents. The end date for quarantine enforcement in Thailand remains to be seen.

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1st October 2013

The United States government has recently shut down due to the inability of Congress to make a deal regarding the budget and current debt ceiling level. The reverberations from this recent turn of events will likely be felt in many sectors of the United States government and by those who may have business with the US government. As a general matter, governmental functions which are deemed essential will still be available. However, those governmental activities and employees deemed non-essential will likely be discontinued and work furloughed until such time as Congress reaches an agreement. It has been 17 years since the United States government last shut down. As of the time of this writing, the Office of Management and Budget has instructed supervisors of various governmental entities to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown.”

What is the practical impact of the government’s closure upon the immigration process? It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the following has been posted on the official website of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and Consulate General Chiang Mai remain open to the public. As always, our priorities remain providing safety, security, and service to U.S. citizens. We are open for all consular services, including visa processing.

It could be inferred that the Embassy is attempting to dispel rumors that a shutdown will negatively impact the processing of US visa applications as well as applications for US passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA), and various notarial services requested by Americans living in Thailand. Hopefully, the recently announced government shutdown will not last long and thus not cause any great problems for those seeking visas to the United States of America. However, a protracted shutdown could mean that processing of US visa applications could move at a slower pace, or, in a worst case scenario, be discontinued until such time as a budget is agreed upon. Hopefully, this will not happen and the processing of applications will continue apace.

Meanwhile, it is likely that the shutdown will not affect processing of immigration petitions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). As USCIS is funded by the fees paid by petitioners, it seems likely that a government shutdown will not adversely impact those seeking immigration benefits from USCIS. Again, as the United States has not seen a government shutdown in nearly two decades some of the details about the impact of the current shutdown remain somewhat speculative. Readers of this blog should take note that further information will be provided herein as it becomes available.

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23rd June 2010

On this blog we often discuss issues associated with US passports and US Immigration. Recently, this author discovered that the Department of State (DOS) is seeking comments regarding a proposed rule change which would alter the way in which DOS collects information prior to American passport issuance. The following excerpts are taken from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) website. To quote one page from the AILA website:

The Department of State is seeking Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval for the information collection described below. The purpose of this notice is to allow 60 days for public comment in the Federal Register preceding submission to OMB. We are conducting this process in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995….

Abstract of proposed collection:

The information collected on the DS-3053 is used to facilitate the issuance of passports to U.S. citizens and nationals under the age of 16. The primary purpose of soliciting the information is to ensure that both parents and/or all guardians consent to the issuance of a passport to a minor under age 16, except where one parent has sole custody or there are exigent or special family circumstances.

Methodology:

Passport Services collects information from U.S. citizens and non- citizen nationals when they complete and submit the Statement of Consent or Special Circumstances: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 16. Passport applicants can either download the DS-3053 from the Internet or obtain one from an Acceptance Facility/Passport Agency. The form must be completed, signed, and submitted along with the applicant’s DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport…

Clearly the Department of State wishes to use the DS-3053 in order to collect what they deem to be the necessary information before issuing a passport to a minor child. The public policy reasons for this change of rules is somewhat obvious as the Department is likely concerned about improper issuance of a US passport to minor.

To quote another page on the AILA website:

60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Form DS-5504, Application for a U.S. Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement, OMB Control Number 1405-0160…

The Department of State is seeking Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval for the information collection described below. The purpose of this notice is to allow 60 days for public comment in the Federal Register preceding submission to OMB. We are conducting this process in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995…

We are soliciting public comments to permit the Department to:

Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is necessary for the proper performance of our functions…

The information collected on the DS-5504 is used to facilitate the re-issuance of passports to U.S. citizens and nationals when (a) the passport holder’s name has changed within the first year of the issuance of the passport; (b) the passport holder needs correction of descriptive information on the data page of the passport; or (c) the passport holder wishes to obtain a fully valid passport after obtaining a full-fee passport with a limited validity of two years or less. The primary purpose of soliciting the information is to establish citizenship, identity, and entitlement of the applicant to the U.S. passport or related service, and to properly administer and enforce the laws pertaining to the issuance thereof…

In this instance, it would seem that the Department of State is primarily concerned with collecting necessary data so as to issue US passports only to those individuals who are legally entitled to such travel documents. US Citizenship has many benefits that are not accorded to Non-US Citizens. Therefore, those issuing US passports must take appropriate measures to ensure that US passports are not issued to individuals who are not legally entitled to such status. With laws such as the Child Citizenship Act, these measures are likely to become more necessary as individuals are deriving their US Citizenship in different way compared to Americans in previous generations.

For those interested in obtaining a US Passport in Thailand or information about visa services please see: American Citizen Services or US Embassy Thailand.

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