Went down to City Hall again today, changed my drivers license to Illinois1, and then went to drop off my various paperwork to the U.S. Department of State’s Acceptance Facility so that I can get a US passport.
I was born in Toronto, of American parents, but my mom didn’t know she was supposed to register me with the U.S. Consul (with handy-dandy Form FS-240)2, so I’ve been living in limbo most of my life. The rules are fairly plain: if you have parents who are US citizens, you are an American citizen as well, but the challenge is in the proving.
In my case, I needed proof of my mother’s American citizenship (her birth certificate from Neenah, WI), my father’s birth certificate (Chicago, actually)3, their marriage license from County of Santa Clara, CA, my birth certificate (the long form version, which turned out to require a Canadian citizen with certain parameters to vouch for me, luckily Emily Spring qualified), a Notarized affidavit of all locations that my mother had lived before she had me4, which turned out to be quite a lot of places. Oh, and since the name on my birth certificate was different than the name I’ve used most of my life, also a certified copy of my legal name change order, from a Travis County judge’s office, circa 1993.
Yikes. Lots of checkboxes to click. My official category is Complex Citizen, and it’s true. I’ve had a Social Security number since I was 16 or so, and a drivers license since 17, but a passport was a different beast to corral.
We are planning to go to London on business at the beginning of August, so this suddenly became an urgent task to complete. In 2007, when my family had family reunion on the occasion of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary on a cruise ship to Alaska, I had started collecting the needed paperwork, but was unable to collect everything to the US Department of State’s satisfaction in time, plus they delayed the requirement that traveling to Canada required a passport, so I abandoned the quest.
Today, my photograph, actually taken in 2007, was nearly rejected by the Acceptance Facility agent5, but when pressed, she couldn’t say why exactly, so let it go through. However, I had forgotten to bring a check, so had to pace nervously while my partner went and got a cashiers check at a nearby bank. Unfortunately, she filled it out to the wrong entity, but we corrected it with a pen, and after a few moments of discussion, the clerk took all the documents, and gave me a receipt.
In 5 days I can supposedly check the status of my application, and if all is correct, will receive my long awaited passport in 3 weeks.Footnotes:
- even though I’ve lived on and off in Chicago for nearly 15 years, I’ve maintained my Texas license for some reason [↩]
- I don’t blame her at all – it isn’t a topic discussed in school [↩]
- I don’t know my birth father, haven’t seen him since I was an infant, but that further complicates matters [↩]
- originally, she created a document listing the places she had lived after I was born, and not until I was at the Department of State passport counter, did I realize this was wrong. [↩]
- who was in a big rush to leave at 3:30, even though the office is supposed to remain open until 4:30 [↩]