American Passports

Under the Child Citizenship Act, our four sons- as the children of a US citizen and permanently residing in America – became US citizens when we emigrated here in October 2013.  However, in order to make that officially part of the record and make it concrete and provable, we had the option of either applying for a Certificate of Citizenship or a US passport.  We thought the passports were a better option so that was what we decided to do.

We filled in the forms and took them to the Post Office for checking and processing.  Just as in Britain, there is a fee attached for this service but it is a more sound and secure way to submit a passport application so is well worth the money.  We could not, however, get the Post Office person handling the paperworks to appreciate that the applications were being submitted under the Child Citizenship Act rather than by standard birth-right.  We talked it through with him several times and he got the idea on some level but not that there was a requirement for additional supporting evidence regarding the boys’ residency qualification.  Finally my husband insisted that he enclose at least copies of their Green Cards and other such documentation with the applications.

We were not surprised, therefore, when a month later four identical envelopes appeared in my mail box all bearing the same message from the US Department of State: we needed to submit a whole bundle of supporting evidence within 90 days or else all four applications would be void.  This was so supremely frustrating that it made me want to primal scream.  It was also far too reminiscent of the beauracratic tangles and annoyance of the Green Card saga.  A phone call to the relevant section of the State Department confirmed how to handle having only one original copy of our Marriage Certificate to split between four applications and that we only had to send all the boys’ Green Cards to evidence the residency qualification.  All of which could have been done at the Post Office.  We essentially paid the PO’s handling fee just so they would get the applications from A to B and nothing more.

Thankfully – unlike the debacle with my oldest son’s Social Security card and Green Card – this was the only glitch in the bureaucratic path and a few days ago four envelopes appeared in the mailbox, each containing a US passport.  Of course, there is still an opportunity for a stuff up as there always is – they have not yet returned our marriage certificate or the Green Cards – but for now it looks like the passport saga is at an end.  Our sons are now, after two years of living here, officially dual nationals and will be legally recognised as American citizens.  I am now the only Pict family member who remains un-American.  This Presidential election, however, increases my frustration at not being permitted to vote so I may have to make my own citizenship my next big bureaucratic project.

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12 thoughts on “American Passports

  1. Don’t you just love bureaucracy? In the first years after we moved to the U.K., every single thing we did except grocery shopping involved our passports, which always had to be sent to Wales. Why Wales couldn’t just keep the damned things and hand them around I don’t know, but they sent them back each time so we could send them to some other office in Wales.

    • Well that sounds ridiculous. Obviously I’ve no experience of being an immigrant in the UK so it’s always interesting to learn from you what that’s like. Here it’s always the driving license they ask for which was the inspiration for at least one of my rants on this blog. I was a non-person until I had that piece of plastic. What I do have experience of in terms of ID and UK bureaucracy is a history of departments losing my documentary evidence. The only birth certificate now in my possession dates from when I was 14 because the passport agency lost my original one and the DVLA lost my passport and some other department lost my driving license. If there does come a day when they will just put barcodes on us from birth so they can keep track of us all, I might even be relieved by the reduction in paperwork and potential for screw ups.

      • The ridiculous thing is that in order to obtain a driving license I needed to present other documentation but in order to obtain that documentation the issuing companies and organizations wanted a U.S. driver’s license as proof of my identity. It was a completely ridiculous circular mess. At least it inspired a rant on my blog and I did eventually get it resolved but it was one of my first experiences of the inflexible nature of US bureaucracy.

  2. Ah bureaucracy! An office with the specific task of writing incomprehensible questionnaires, losing any comprehensible responses, losing all required additional attachments and forwarding unrequired ephemera – and taking forever to do so – Employment opportunities for nit-wits, rules followers, small minded fundamentalists and egocentric drop-outs. Found globally 🙂

  3. Congratulations on successfully negotiating all that Laura, I remember your post a while back about the hassles with your eldest son’s paperwork, this sounds stress free compared to that!! Will it be a more difficult process for you if you decide to go down that path?

    • Yes, I braced myself for disaster but it all went much more smoothly with this process. Citizenship will be more complicated for me but it should be doable. I just wanted to get the boys’ citizenship settled before I embarked on another load of hassle.

  4. I see that US bureaucracy is no different to the UK!! It’s so annoying when you tell someone that they should be doing something that they think is not important, and then you have to repeat the process a few days later. That seems to happen a lot to me whilst I’m on the phone, and whenever I phone back, I never get to speak to the original person!! 😦

    • I believe the problem is with people being trained to follow one order list, one set of procedures, and refusing to be flexible enough or imaginative enough to creatively problem solve. Then there’s the refusing to listen to your customer or client’s opinion. Next up will be citizenship for me which could be a goldmine for blog rants.

      • You’re right about the inflexibility of people, it’s really annoying when people just follow the procedure they’ve been taught! I’ll look forward to your future rants about your citizenship Laura 🙂

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