Getting an American passport is a very different experience depending on what immigration status the applicant may have.
Some people may have status in the United States, but may not be eligible for a passport.
Getting Passport for Foreign Resident
Foreign residents cannot carry U.S. passports. However, they can take steps to eventually apply for a passport.
The first step is to become a permanent resident (also called a Green Card holder) in the U.S. One of the easiest ways to do this is to apply for the Green Card Lottery.
Unlike other U.S. immigration programs, the Green Card Lottery is very easy to sign up for and has few requirements.
In order to apply for an immigration visa to the United States one must have a valid and current passport from their country of citizenship. The process for getting a passport is different from country to country.
Getting Passport for U.S. Permanent Resident
Permanent Residency does not qualify a person for a U.S. passport either, but it is one major step closer to being able to do so.
Permanent Residents must become eligible and then apply for citizenship. This includes meeting a residency requirement, a background check and knowledge tests.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government body responsible for the issuance of citizenship requires that future citizens be competent in the English language and familiar with the history and governmental organization of the United States.
As soon as a Permanent Resident becomes a citizen of the United States, they may then apply for a passport at any of the below mentioned facilities.
Getting Passport for U.S. Citizen
U.S. Citizens are the only group of people who are allowed to apply for and carry a U.S. passport. It is part of the reason why so many people try to become citizens of the U.S.
There are many different ways that a citizen may apply for a passport:
- Send in an application to the State Department for a passport
- Many post offices around the country offer passport services to U.S. citizens
- Community centers such as city halls or libraries also offer passport services
Regardless of which pathway one chooses to apply for citizenship, there are a few things one must include in their application package:
- Passport photos. These photographs follow very specific parameters and many people prefer to have professional photographers take them. Some of the above application sites have on-site photography
- Passport fees. Depending on one’s age and the material one is applying for, the fees will increase. Additional pages, a passport card and a first time application will all cost more than just a simple renewal
In some instances, one may request express processing through the State Department. This usually requires proof of travel to another country sometime in the near future. For example, a plane ticket scheduled a month or two in advance.