Second Passports

Feds: We No Longer Need Your Circumcision Records to Renew Your Passport

Last year, I wrote about a new State Department “Biographical Questionnaire” (Form DS-5513) that, if approved, you might have to complete to receive a passport. Among other questions, Form DS-5513 requested:

* Your mother’s residence one year before your birth

* Your mother’s residence one year after your birth

* Your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth

* Details of your mother’s pre-natal or post-natal medical care, if any

* Your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth

* Details of the type of document, if any, your mother used to enter into the United States before your birth

* The circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.

* If there were any religious or institutional recoding of your birth or event occurring around the time of birth (Example: baptism, circumcision, confirmation or other religious ceremony).

* A list of every address at which you’ve ever resided since birth.

* The name and telephone number of every supervisor you’ve had at every job in your life, including as a temporary worker.

* The name, address, and telephone number of every school you’ve ever attended.

Faced with a storm of criticism over the proposal, the State Department decided not to move forward with Form DS-5513–although it admitted that it was already using the forms for selected passport applicants. Eighteen months later, however, now that opposition has subsided, the State Department is trying again to gain official approval for the form, plus a new Form DS-5520.

Opposition to the original proposal focused on the fact that the vast majority of people who would be asked to complete Form DS-5513 would find it impossible to complete. As travel guru Edward Habrouck has observed, "Requiring someone to complete Form DS-5513 would amount to de facto denial of their application for a passport." Indeed, Hasbrouck and many other individuals who commented on the proposal believe the real point of the form is to in fact make it impossible for certain "undesirable" U.S. citizens to ever obtain passports.

The State Department's "revised" Form DS-5513 has been renamed " Supplemental Questionnaire to Determine Entitlement for a U.S. Passport." It no longer requires you to list the details of your circumcision or the religious ceremonies that accompanied it. However, it still requests other details noted above, including a complete list of the individuals in the room in which you were born.

Form DS-5520, in contrast, is entitled "Supplemental Questionnaire to Determine Identity for a U.S. Passport." The questions on this form are somewhat less invasive, but according to the instructions for either form, "Failure to provide the information requested may result in processing delays or the denial of your U.S. passport application."

In its previous submissions relating to Form DS-5513, the State Department indicated it would require only those passport applicants who “submit citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity” to complete the form. It estimated that only about 74,000 persons per year will need to complete this form.  That’s about 0.5% of persons applying for a passport.

This time around, the State Department won't say who would be required to complete the form. Apparently, any passport examiner could decide your appearance, religion, political affiliation, or any other factor or factors requires you to complete the form. In making that decision, the examiner in effect would veto your right to travel internationally.

Naturally, under what I call the “surveillance creep” principle, that once Form DS-5513 receives final approval, its use will be greatly expanded.  Form DS-5513 is a wakeup call for any U.S. citizen applying or renewing their passport.  It’s an unmistakable indication that in the future, it could be much more difficult to qualify for a U.S. passport.  And without a passport, of course, you have no way to travel internationally.

If you’re a U.S. citizen, the advent of Form DS-5513 means that it’s more important than ever to get a second passport, “just in case.”  If you qualify for a second passport by virtue of marriage or ancestry, don’t wait a moment longer to begin the process of acquiring it.

If you don’t qualify for a second passport on those grounds, it’s still possible to acquire one by making a contribution or investment to a handful of countries.  In exchange, you’ll receive citizenship for life and a passport.  The Commonwealth of Dominica and the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis are the only countries with an official, legally mandated, citizenship-through-investment program.

The Nestmann Group, Ltd. can assist you in lodging your application for citizenship and passport in these countries. Contact us for more information.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Nestmann

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