United States citizens who wish to travel abroad must apply to the U.S. Department of State for a passport. Applicants must provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or previously issued passport, in order to successfully obtain a passport. The Department of State will, however, deny an application under certain conditions.
The U.S. denies passports to individuals convicted of a federal or state drug felony if the individual used a passport or crossed an international border while committing the offense. Certain misdemeanors involving drug offense convictions may be grounds for denial as well, should the Secretary of State decide that denial is appropriate. This does not include first time misdemeanor charges solely for possession of a controlled substance. The period of ineligibility ends when the person has served his prison sentence or is no longer on parole or supervised release from prison.
Any person who owes more than $2,500 in child support will be ineligible for a United States passport. Individuals who owe back child support must contact their state agency to arrange payments of their arrears before beginning the passport application process. Once they have made acceptable arrangements for payment, the agency will contact the Department of Health and Human Services. The department will remove the individual’s name from its list of those in arrears and inform the Department of State, who will verify the removal. At this point the passport application process may begin.
The Department of State denies a passport when there are outstanding federal or state warrants for an applicant’s arrest, or if a condition of an applicant’s parole or probation is that the individual remain in the United States. Crimes that include such restrictions include sexual offenses. The U.S. will also deny passports to individuals who have arrest warrants for felonies issued by foreign countries when the Department of State is aware of such warrants, and to applicants whose extradition has been requested by a foreign government.
Minors and Incompetents
In order to protect children in cases of abduction or custody disputes where noncustodial parents may try to remove them from the country, the Department of State requires both parents to appear in person with the child to apply for a passport. This applies to all children under the age of 16, who, along with their parents, must show proof of their identification. The Department also deny passports to those declared incompetent by a court or those who are currently in a mental institution. A legal guardian may apply for someone deemed incompetent.
Federal Loans and Debts
The United States denies passports to applicants who have certain types of outstanding federal loans. Applicants who have not repaid loans received from the government for the repatriation or evacuation of the applicant and his children, spouse or other immediate family members from a foreign country to the United States cannot receive passports. Applicants will not receive passports if they have not repaid federal loans for emergency medical care, dietary supplements and other emergency assistance, including that given to an applicant’s immediate family members.