Passports & Visas Common Questions & Answers

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I am planning on traveling outside the United States.  What are the current passport requirements?

The Department of State maintains a thorough list on its web site at

How can I best prepare myself for travel abroad?

The Department of State provides travel information for each area/country. Each country has different entry and visa requirements, so make sure you plan well in advance.  The information can be found at

Leave a photocopy of your passport with a family member or friend in case your passport is lost while traveling. It is also recommended that you register your visit with the appropriate United States Embassy.  More info can be found at

How do I obtain a United States passport?

For general guidance from the Department of State:
For first time applicants:

For renewals:

For minors under 14:

For an expedited passport:

How do I check the status of my passport application?

Please note that the processing times provided by the State Department are an estimate. It is advised to allow at least 8 weeks for regular processing.

My passport has been lost/stolen.  What do I do?

The State Department has instructions on its web site at

I was born in a foreign country while one of my U.S. citizen parents was residing there.  How do I prove my citizenship?

The State Department can provide you with a Certified Copy of Birth Overseas, so visit

I would like a friend/relative from a foreign country to come visit me for the summer. What steps do my friend and I have to take?

The Department of State web site details what kind of visa they may apply for and also has a list of all the U.S. Embassies, Consulates. Generally, your friend/relative will need to come prepared to prove that they are not planning on immigrating here they should provide evidence of property, financial statements, ties to the community through work, organizations they belong to, family and friend ties. You may have to act as the sponsor for your friend/relative which means you can prove that you will be financially responsible for your guest. Depending on the visa, you may need to apply to the USCIS for approval; for example if you want to bring in a fiance or a relative on an immigrant visa.  For more information, visit the web site at

I would like to get my tourist/student/business visa extended. What do I need to do?

You should first contact the closest foreign consulate office for detailed instructions. Extension of your visa will depend on whether or not you have a valid passport and what the date stamped on your I-94 states. Students should contact the Foreign Study office at their school for guidance.