American passports......AAAARRRRGGHHH!!!! - Mothering Forums
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Multicultural Families > American passports......AAAARRRRGGHHH!!!!
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 09:02 AM 03-26-2008
Yes, this is a vent.

I am taking a trip overseas (home is Australia) with my family in June/July. We are dual Australian/US citizens (the kids & i anyway) & we are going to France for a few weeks, & then travelling on to the US to see my family & to go to a friend's wedding. All up we will be in France for 25 days, & the US for 19 days. Both children were born outside the US. DH is straight-up AUstralian.

THe upshot is that we are not allowed to travel into the US as Australians, but we must pay US$290 in passport fees to get US passports in order to travel back through the United States. Expired passports won't do. And I have to find a special US passport photographer, & we have to fly to SYdney (we live a looooong-assed way from Sydney- at least $600 in flights!) to have a personal interview to get a US passport to re-enter the country that i was born in, & where we three still retain citizenship. Confused? I am too, tbh.

Hell, a frickin' Australian tourist visa is FREE, & lasts for 90 days! But for me & my kids, dual citizens that we luckily are , we get to fork out around AUS$1000 for the priviledge of visiting our family & my 'home' country for 19 days. We aren't allowed to enter the US as Aussies.....

Cranky as all hell.

AllisonR's Avatar AllisonR 09:20 AM 03-26-2008
Both my kids are dual (Danish/American) and I had to pay a wad as well - though the Danish ones are just as expensive.

I think the term is "prefer" - America prefers you enter with your american passport. But if you all 4 have Aussie passports, why can't you just enter with those? You are coming on vacation to visit friends and spend your money on nice, touristy items.

On the other hand, I am jealous you are allowed dual citizenship. Danes and Norwegians allow no dual citizenship for americans married to Danes/working in Denmark.... Dual citizenship is only allowed for our children. And dual citizenship, imo, is worth a lot more than 1000dollars (though, yes, that is a big fat chunck of money.) I have a canadian/danish friend, who used one passport to visit Isreal and another to visit Iran a month later. Interesting trips I will never be granted. Use the dual citizenship to your advantage.
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 09:33 AM 03-26-2008
The US requires by law that anyone with US citizenship enters the US on a US passport.

We are welcome to try & enter the US on Australian passports only, but if border control gets any inkling that we are dual citizens without a US passport, then they have the right to deny us access to the US.

THat is our reality, & I did think about trying to 'pass' as 'just' Australians, but I am concerned that we could be turned back at the border in D.C, & sent back to Australia without seeing our friends & family, yk?
Alcyone's Avatar Alcyone 10:08 AM 03-26-2008
You have to have an interview to get a passport? Erm… why? Yeah, I'm confused now too!

We are going to the US in December and I am giving birth in September. So I think I just have to not apply for citizenship for the baby until after the trip, because that's not enough time to process all the BS to get baby a US passport. Getting a Danish one will be relatively straightforward.

And yeah, I'm jealous you can do dual too!
yvonnemlv's Avatar yvonnemlv 10:20 AM 03-26-2008
If you have kids you need to do the interview. It's generally a piece of cake, just a pain. Not sure about US citizen with expired passport though...maybe they need to do an interview too?

3 months is plenty of time to do US passport stuf, alcyone. you write in when your trip is and I think they generally speed up the process a bit for you. Just don't quote me on that as i'm sure it varies from country to country's consular. *grin*
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 10:21 AM 03-26-2008
Alcyone, my advice is to be really careful when it comes to travelling with young dual citizens.

And yes, after spending hours online & on the phone with various US authorities in Canberra & Sydney this morning, I'm pretty damn sure that we need a US passport to enter the US. It's like one big 'f*ck-you' to the expat community, to be honest & as far as I'm concerned........

And for others, tell me again why anyone is jealous of the dual citizenship status.... because from my pov is it absolute crap right now.....
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 10:28 AM 03-26-2008
and just as an afterthought- alcyone, my dd's first passport photo was taken at 6 weeks. It took at least an hour for me to balance her on the chair, with the right colour background, without any visible influence from me. It was a requirement that she sat up straight. At 6 weeks .


You'd think I'd be used to this sort of thing, eh? :
Alcyone's Avatar Alcyone 11:10 AM 03-26-2008
It is not just getting the passport that has to be processed in three months. I have to get a certificate for the birth, submit an application for the citizenship, and wait for that to go through before I can apply for the passport. I don't really see the point in doing that when I have 18 years to apply for the citizenship for the child.

If having Australian citizenship has no benefits, then why did you do it? I don't know what you get with that but to get Danish citizenship would open lots of doors for me across the EU, as well as obviously being able to vote and such here.
Mor22's Avatar Mor22 11:20 AM 03-26-2008
Hijakking thread - Alcyone - if you are in Kbh - go to the embassy. Otherwise the consular from Kbh visits Århus and Fyn 2 times a year - you can call the embassy and they will refer you to the on-line website that clearly lists what forms are needed and what paperwork you need to bring (wedding certificate..) Both you, DH and baby need to be present. I've done it twice and it is rather straightforward. Then you get a passport and certificate of birth abroad, and it didn't take 3 months.

The only thing I really had issues with was the passport photos - which had to be exactely x by y, head size exactly x by y, forward facing, both eyes open, mouth closed, on a totally white background with no shadows. Um, totally unrealistic with a newborn. But they also know that, and if babe is crosseyed and drolling... they'll let it go. The size and background were manditory though - so go to a photo shop and say it is for USA passport, not danish (which is three quarter view, not staight on...)
EVC's Avatar EVC 02:21 PM 03-26-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcyone View Post
It is not just getting the passport that has to be processed in three months. I have to get a certificate for the birth, submit an application for the citizenship, and wait for that to go through before I can apply for the passport. I don't really see the point in doing that when I have 18 years to apply for the citizenship for the child.

If having Australian citizenship has no benefits, then why did you do it? I don't know what you get with that but to get Danish citizenship would open lots of doors for me across the EU, as well as obviously being able to vote and such here.
MY dd was born outside of the US and it took us approximately 2 weeks (starting a few days after her birth) to process her Consular report of birth abroad (US birth certificate equivalent) and her US passport. It was very quick and easy--in fact, we submitted the passport application along with the docs for the birth certificate, so they CAN be processed simulataneously (you do not need to do one first before you start the next). It was a VERY simple and quick process. Like I said, we had the passport in about 2 weeks. No problems with the picture either--we just took her to one of those photo shops that does passport photos. Dh ducked down behind her, propped her up by holding her firmly below the rib cage, and although she looked a little smooshed, the picture was fine and accepted without problem.
Justmee's Avatar Justmee 02:47 PM 03-26-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcyone View Post
It is not just getting the passport that has to be processed in three months. I have to get a certificate for the birth, submit an application for the citizenship, and wait for that to go through before I can apply for the passport. I don't really see the point in doing that when I have 18 years to apply for the citizenship for the child.

If having Australian citizenship has no benefits, then why did you do it? I don't know what you get with that but to get Danish citizenship would open lots of doors for me across the EU, as well as obviously being able to vote and such here.
Be very careful trying to get a child into the US without a US passport. I know someone who tried to bring their kids in on the UK passports and they were refuesed entry since they are "potential" citizens (even though they weren't citizens at the time). Since they qualified for citizenship, they couldn't get in on a non US passport.

Here they went to an appointment system and it takes about 6 months for an appointment. I have to bring the baby at some point, but we aren't planning on traveling any time soon so I'm putting it off and hoping they work the kinks out of the appointment system soon
umsami's Avatar umsami 05:47 PM 03-26-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
and just as an afterthought- alcyone, my dd's first passport photo was taken at 6 weeks. It took at least an hour for me to balance her on the chair, with the right colour background, without any visible influence from me. It was a requirement that she sat up straight. At 6 weeks
We went through this with all of our kids. They were all around one month when we got their first passports. Somebody later recommended to me that I put a white poster board on the ground, and lie DC on it. Worked much easier... and no worries about a little piece of my hand showing.
Blueena's Avatar Blueena 05:58 PM 03-26-2008
both my little ones are dual and they have to travel on their US passport, pain in the butt, but there you go.

Advice to all you ladies about passport photos with babies, my daughter was 4 months old in her picture and they photographer (bless her), placed a white piece of poster board paper on the floor, we laid her on it, the woman stood above her and wa-lah, the picture was taken without having to prop her up or deal with the logistics of the whole thing.

Good luck!
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 10:28 PM 03-26-2008
For me, taking up Australian citizenship was beneficial because I can now vote, & it gives me peace of mind that I am officially a citizen of the country I call home. It's the American citizenship that is a pain in the bum right now. Because the kids were born to an American, they automatically must be registered as Americans & use US passports to travel into the US.

It used to be a lot easier when we could renew via the post, but now it requires a physical trip to the consulate for all childrens passports. In my case that's either a 3 day drive, or a minimum of $600 in air tickets- in reality it's probably going to be closer to $800, depending on how much warning they give me on the appointment time.
Jane's Avatar Jane 11:04 PM 03-26-2008
That sounds like it blows.
There's some website that's set up to to US-legal passport photos at home.

http://www.epassportphoto.com/

http://www.epassportphoto.com/Blog/p...hotograph.aspx
BunniMummi's Avatar BunniMummi 06:24 AM 03-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post
We went through this with all of our kids. They were all around one month when we got their first passports. Somebody later recommended to me that I put a white poster board on the ground, and lie DC on it. Worked much easier... and no worries about a little piece of my hand showing.
Yeah, I have taken both of the first US passport photos for my kids just by putting a white cloth down onto the floor and laying them onto it (regular digital camera, regular photo printer). Honestly so long as you have a photo with a clear, centered view of their face on a white background it's probably fine. There was even some shadow for kid #2 and they never complained. There are the requirements for the size online.

Think of it from their point of view, having multiple travel documents is a pretty big deal from a security standpoint. The US passports will last for 5 years (which is pretty funny when you look at their pictures) so it isn't as if you are going to have to do this each year. I've never thought of it as much work since I do all the paperwork together, Certificate of Birth Abroad, Passport Application and SS#. One trip to the embassy per kid didn't seem that bad to me. I can understand how the traveling part is a pain in the butt though.
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 07:42 AM 03-28-2008
That is a great link- the one where you can make your own passport photos. Unfortunately I don't have a photo printer, but it is a very good tip for those who do.

Also, what an excellent idea to lay babies on a white background! I'm not sure whether or not they used a digital camera on my dd all those years ago, but a good idea nonetheless!

I am coming to terms with the fact that I simply have no choice but to fork out the money for the US passports (plus flights to collect passports) for this trip to the US. It still galls me to think that if we were allowed to travel as AUssies the visa would be free.

Funnily enough, even worse shit than passport dramas has happened this week (today). Internet banking fraud. $5000 gone. Far out, you know.....

I think I'm still in shock, tbh.



I've run all the scans on my computer & come up clean, contacted police, banks, changed passwords, etc. etc.....



.....................................





What crap the last three days have been.
Irishmommy's Avatar Irishmommy 11:19 AM 03-28-2008

Jane's Avatar Jane 03:16 PM 03-28-2008
oh no! I'm so sorry.
elizaveta's Avatar elizaveta 02:19 PM 03-29-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
The US requires by law that anyone with US citizenship enters the US on a US passport.

We are welcome to try & enter the US on Australian passports only, but if border control gets any inkling that we are dual citizens without a US passport, then they have the right to deny us access to the US.

THat is our reality, & I did think about trying to 'pass' as 'just' Australians, but I am concerned that we could be turned back at the border in D.C, & sent back to Australia without seeing our friends & family, yk?
If you come up to them and are like "G'day m8! Let's go get this show on the road because I want to go fire up the barbie!" they'll totally believe you.

:

And edit after seeing a later post: I know dealing with all the US laws can be a pain. I wanted to go on a visit to see some family after not seeing them for 3 years. My husband, daughter (dual citizen) and I couldn't go because they labelled my husband a "Russian bride" (they even used those words in his interview) and said he was too risky and we'd have to apply for the greencard. Which is what we had to do. Russian Bride my ass! We've been together for five years, married for three and we have a baby. If it was a joke, don't you think we would have gone to America in the first 3 years we were together? I fought with them, it did no good. Bah on them.
Pippi L.'s Avatar Pippi L. 02:37 PM 03-29-2008
I thought I might avoid this. But remember rules are different depending on if one parent is a US citizen or both are. Since my husband is not American I can only pass on my citizenship to my dd if I lived in the States for a certain number years after the age of 14. I have to prove it by submitting my transcripts from high school. I barely qualify. If they bug me about her citizenship I'm going to tell them I'm not eligible to pass it on.
EVC's Avatar EVC 03:06 PM 03-29-2008
Quote:
I thought I might avoid this. But remember rules are different depending on if one parent is a US citizen or both are. Since my husband is not American I can only pass on my citizenship to my dd if I lived in the States for a certain number years after the age of 14. I have to prove it by submitting my transcripts from high school. I barely qualify. If they bug me about her citizenship I'm going to tell them I'm not eligible to pass it on.
Hmmmm...I know that is the official policy, but I think so much depends on the mood of the embassy official We were in the same boat (I am a US citizen who had been living abroad for a number of years, my dh is not a citizen), but no one asked me to prove anything when we applied for dd's consular report of birth abroad and US passport. I guess we got lucky
EVC's Avatar EVC 03:22 PM 03-29-2008
Quote:
I know dealing with all the US laws can be a pain. I wanted to go on a visit to see some family after not seeing them for 3 years. My husband, daughter (dual citizen) and I couldn't go because they labelled my husband a "Russian bride" (they even used those words in his interview) and said he was too risky and we'd have to apply for the greencard. Which is what we had to do. Russian Bride my ass! We've been together for five years, married for three and we have a baby. If it was a joke, don't you think we would have gone to America in the first 3 years we were together? I fought with them, it did no good. Bah on them.
Aargh That is just so insulting on many levels :

As for the result, though, they were following the law by not granting your dh a tourist visa. I know of a few exceptions, but generally spouses of US citizens are not eligible for US tourist visas as they are de facto potential immigrants (and the law specifically states that a potential immigrant is not eligible for a tourist visa). It is stupid and I will be first to say that our immigration system is in deperate need of a massive overhaul, but at least they were ultimately following the current law (as opposed to just discriminating against you as their nasty comments would otherwise indicate).
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 09:25 AM 03-30-2008
Well now that is interesting. My DH didn't have any dramas when he wanted to go the US with me as my spouse in 1997 & in 2001.

Are you all saying that if he were travelling on to the US (he's not, this time) from Europe, he might have trouble getting a temp. visa because he has the misfortune to be married to a dual citizen American?? If so, that's kinda of freaky to me...... Again, I do wonder why it is a benefit to have dual US nationality (other than voting & having absolute right to visit my parents immediately should they become seriously ill).....


.......................


(and thanks guys for the internet fraud sympathy, too, i'm still working all that out- will be doing the stat dec thing at the bank tomorrow, submitting police report #s, etc. Personally, I hate to having to deal with the police...)
EVC's Avatar EVC 02:22 PM 03-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
Well now that is interesting. My DH didn't have any dramas when he wanted to go the US with me as my spouse in 1997 & in 2001.

Are you all saying that if he were travelling on to the US (he's not, this time) from Europe, he might have trouble getting a temp. visa because he has the misfortune to be married to a dual citizen American??

It can be a problem. A lot really does depend on the mood of the person processing the visa request (there can be A LOT of inconsistency in how the regulations are interpreted and enforced even from day to day--I have worked on exchange programs and seen near identical candidates get VERY different results on their visa applications). It also depends to some degree on the country of the person's citizenship--some citizenships are more "suspicious" than others and therefore are subject to stricted interpretation of regulations.

But here for example:

http://www.visa2003.com/visa.htm

Quote:
Meeting conditions to qualify for a U.S. visa.

All applicants for the visa to The United States must show not only that they qualify to receive a visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, but they also have to demonstrate that they are not intending immigrants. bThe USCIS treats every visitor to the U.S. as a potential immigrant. In order to demonstrate otherwise visa applicants have to show that:

- they are coming to America to conduct business, for medical treatment, or for pleasure i.e. to visit family members, friends, or as tourists.

- they will stay in the U.S. for a certain period of time

- they have an established residence in another country, and "binding ties" which can insure that they will return back to their countries. Examples of those ties are: owning a property, having a family, employment in their country, and community ties.
A consular official CAN interpret this as meaning that any spouse of a US citizen is potential immigrant whose ties to his/her home country are no longer strong enough to ensure that he/she return at the end of the visa.

HOWEVER, some officials have no problem allowing for a tourist visa EVEN WHEN they know in advance that the visitor intends to adjust status after arriving in the US. I have seen that as well, although not very often.

So it is always something of a crap shoot, in my opinion. If you win over the consular official, you'll get your visa. If not, you won't.
aussiemum's Avatar aussiemum 09:55 AM 04-04-2008
For me, I have now accepted my fate where it applies to US passports. I have tried, & spent god knows how much on the phone bill, but the reality is that the kids & I will be flying to Sydney mid-April for a consulate visit. I don't know where we are staying yet, but we are going to Sydney for those American passports. It is going to cost around $2000 for us three (as US citizens, with dual nationality) to enter the US for 19 days. If we were straight up Aussies, it would be free.....

I am coming to terms with that....


And because I am the person that I am.... I will not take this lying down. I am writing a letter of complaint to the US Ambassador to Australia (Robert McCallum, Jr.), who presumably works in this place in Sydney (that I have to visit), & also to the US-Ohio representative that I am paying so much money for the priviledge of having as a representative.

Quite frankly, this new law is an ass for anybody who lives overseas with children.
MCR's Avatar MCR 08:26 PM 04-05-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by aussiemum View Post
and just as an afterthought- alcyone, my dd's first passport photo was taken at 6 weeks. It took at least an hour for me to balance her on the chair, with the right colour background, without any visible influence from me. It was a requirement that she sat up straight. At 6 weeks .


You'd think I'd be used to this sort of thing, eh? :
I remember doing the same thing for my first Ds. I had dressed him in coveralls, and sort of hung him up over the stool they use to take the pics on, luckily he held his head up long enough to take the shot, it was still a bit lopsided, but what the heck he was 6weeks old. I never realized we needed our US passports to enter US, the whole family is Dual, we enter US on US passports and UK on Uk passports, it's flippin expensive having 10 passports in my lock box. Three are due for renewal this summer, 2 UK and 1 US.
ernalala's Avatar ernalala 06:10 AM 04-07-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCR View Post
I remember doing the same thing for my first Ds. I had dressed him in coveralls, and sort of hung him up over the stool they use to take the pics on, luckily he held his head up long enough to take the shot, it was still a bit lopsided, but what the heck he was 6weeks old. US.
Not so much to say on US passports. But an idea for taking passport pics of baby:
I did it 3x with a baby between 2-3 months old, for Belgian passports:
I held the baby on my lap, slightly reclined so that the head would not flip too much forward, and had a bright white cloth diaper draped over my front, so that baby was 'sitting upright' and the background was evenly white/neutral. Nowadays it is done digitally so background can be adjusted if shadows still occur. I first inquired at the photographer's if he could take the pictures while the baby was lying down on a white cloth, but got a no.
You can also check immediately if the picture was good or not and let photographer take as many shots until you got the perfect picture of baby in the right position, and you let that one be developed. So the cost is the same.
Suppose the baby's head does not show fully upright in the picture and you see more of it's 'high forehead' than a real frontal shot would do, I'm sure it will still be accepted for the passport. Belgium got strict rules for passport photographs too, but our consulate hasn't rejected any of the ones we brought.
MetasMom's Avatar MetasMom 04:32 PM 04-07-2008
Pippi L., this is true and applies to a generation until around 1985 when the law was changed again. My sister is one of them and when she birthed a child in Germany, she just went to the consulate and got a "Report of Birth Abroad" for her child. Nobody ever asked her when she had last lived in the U.S.. You could do that, too, you have nothing to lose.

To you others who were mentioning "applying for US citizenship" for your children: You need not apply for U.S. citizenship if you are American and eligible to pass on citizenship. You just get a "Report of Birth Abroad" for the child, that is NOT the same as naturalization. Applying for citizenship would be N600, very expensive and totally not needed in your case. The Report of Birth Abroad is basically registering your child and costs no more than a few bucks if anything at all.

And yes, U.S. law demands that every U.S. citizen enter the States with a valid U.S. passport. BTW, Germany for example does not demand this, I can enter Germany either with my German or with my U.S. passport. Gotta know your country's demands.
MetasMom's Avatar MetasMom 04:33 PM 04-07-2008
Oh, and for the passport picture: I laid the baby on a grey cloth on the floor and the photographer took the picture from above. No head bobbing here.
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