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Applying For A U.S. Passport: A Primer
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Page 1 of 1Total of 3 messages
Posted by:May 25th 2005, 07:22:12 pm
Fig Tree News TeamMay 17, 2005 11:23
U.S. Grants Extension To Hear Passport Concerns
Potential travellers are strongly encouraged to submit their passport application form and required documentation well in advance of the January 1, 2006, implementation date for the new travel document requirement.

The United States Government has granted an additional extension for individuals to submit concerns regarding the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) designed to secure and expedite international travel, an official from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau has revealed.

This is in response to the number of letters submitted to the U.S. Government since it announced plans for the execution of the WHTI on April 5, said Michael Taylor, spokesperson for the United States Embassy in Nassau.

Mr. Taylor said that public comment began on April 5 and that the "official period of public comment" will last for 60 days once the proposed new rules are published in the U. S. Government's Federal Register, which has not happened yet.

"So interested parties have at least 60 more days to express their concerns," Mr. Taylor said.

He noted, however, that in general, most observers seem to understand the need for a secure travel document and want to see the process advance as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

On April 5, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State announced that effective Jan. 1, 2006, all U.S. citizens and foreign nationals travelling to the United States from The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central America and South America, will be required to present a valid passport or another secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.

"Our goal is to strengthen border security and expedite entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors," Homeland Security Acting Under Secretary for Border Transportation Security, Randy Beardsworth, stated in a press release issued by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nassau on April 5.

"By ensuring that travellers possess secure documents, such as the passport, our immigration inspectors will be able to conduct more effective and efficient interviews," Mr. Beardsworth added.

The Ministry of Tourism is sensitive to the need to ensure that the tourism industry is properly prepared for the new travel document requirements for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals recently announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Plans are already underway to launch an educational campaign aimed at sensitizing current visitors to the islands of the impending change. In doing this, the Ministry is confident that by keeping travellers aware far in advance of any change, any adverse effect on tourism in the Islands Of The Bahamas will be negligible.

Currently, U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere, are not required to present a passport to enter or re-enter the U.S. when travelling within the Western Hemisphere.

Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 2004 (The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004), however, mandated the development and implementation of a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other secure document when entering the United States.

It was further explained that the passport (U.S. or foreign) is the document of choice due to its advanced security features. Additional documents are also being examined to determine their acceptability for travel. The public will be notified of additional travel document options as those determinations are made.

The U.S. government would expect that other acceptable documents must establish the citizenship and identity of the bearer, enable electronic data verification and checking, and include significant security features.

Ultimately, all documents used for entry to the United States are expected to include biometrics that can be used to authenticate the document and verify identity.

"We recognise the implications this might have for industry, business and the general public, as well as our neighbouring countries, and they are important partners in this initiative," said Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Maura Harty. "The overarching need is to implement this legal requirement in a way that strengthens security while facilitating the movement of persons and goods."

U.S. citizens residing in or visiting The Bahamas who do not currently possess valid U.S. passports, who anticipate travelling back to the United States after January 1, 2006, can submit applications for a new or renewed passport at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, or at more than 6,000 passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States.

All first-time passport applicants must appear in person to submit their application materials, as must certain categories of passport renewals. Specific information about application procedures and fees is available online at www.travel.state.gov or from the Embassy's Consular Section.

Potential travellers are strongly encouraged to submit their passport application form and required documentation well in advance of the January 1, 2006, implementation date for the new travel document requirement.

The US Congress passed a law in December, 2004, setting a January 1, 2008, deadline for US citizens and foreign nationals to have "a passport or other document, or combination of documents, deemed by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to be sufficient to denote identity of citizenship" in order to enter the US, said Mr. Taylor.

"What is being discussed now is how the Departments of State and Homeland Security will implement that legal requirement," he said.

Mr. Taylor said the proposal is to proceed in three stages: January 1, 2006, for all travel to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America; January 1, 2007, for all air and sea travel to and from Mexico and Canada; January 1, 2008, for all air, sea and land border crossings (which essentially means adding land border crossings to and from Mexico and Canada countries with the largest volume of travellers).

"The Departments of State and Homeland Security have the authority to determine how the legal requirement will be implemented; the current public comment is going to them," Mr. Taylor said. "A change in the legal requirement itself would require another act of Congress."

By: Lindsay Thompson, Bahamas Information Services
Posted by:May 25th 2005, 08:33:32 am
HIflyerMy prediction is that passports are going to take a long time to obtain -as will renewals. One can opt to pay abpout double and get on a fast track but I'm guessing that the system will be overpoaded. It took us a month to get pages added to our existing pasports last year during which time we used birth certificates. Now that isn't going to work. it will peobably take a long time for them to set up a quick turn system for folks using passports weekly.
Posted by:May 24th 2005, 02:36:09 pm
Fig Tree News Teamhttp://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html .. remember, as of 1 January 2006, all U.S. travellers will need a U.S. passport to travel to the Bahamas. For more information, see wwww.bahamas.com.

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