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Definitions

Getting the documents you need for travel can, at first glance, seem to be a difficult challenge. International Visa Service is here to help make this a much easier process.

Below are some definitions related to travel documents which you will find useful.

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Acceptance Agent

 A specific Postal Clerk or Clerk of Court who has been appointed by the Department of State to review and counter sign passport applications.

Amendment

A change of information that occurred after the passport was issued. Examples are: Name changes due to marriage or divorce, corrections in information or errors and extra visa pages.

Application Form

An official Department of State application for a passport and other related forms required to obtain a passport.

Apostille

A simplified process used by numerous countries under The Hague Convention (1968) to verify the authenticity of a seal, stamp or signature which appear on official documents, contracts, or other documents used to do business overseas.

Authentication

The process of determining the authenticity of a seal, stamp, signature or other stamp on a document used for doing business internationally. This process which can have from three to five steps is determined by the country where the contract, service or other document is to be used.

Authority

The power given by a country to members of the diplomatic core based on rank and location for which a consulate officer can issue a visa or travel document.

    Example: A consulate office may be given authority to issue a visa to any U.S. Citizen and anyone residing permanently in the U.S. BUT to no one else. All others must be referred or denied based on their country of origin.

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Bank Letter

A letter from a bank, detailing your bank relation, account information and shows your ability to support yourself. Bank letters are used by Consulate Officers as proof that you have the funds to support yourself while visiting their country. These bank letter should be notarized.

Bank Statement

A copy of your current bank statement, which show the balances in your bank accounts, which meets monetary requirements for the visa type and country you are visiting. Consulate Officers uses a bank statement to show proof that you have funds to support yourself.

BAR Code (2D)

The 2D bar code is a bar scan which contains the information on applications which can be scanned into a computer by the U.S. Government (in case of passports) or Consulates of Foreign Governments (as in India) to allow for accurate transmittal of the application from one computer to another.

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Certified Birth Certificate

A certificate issued by the county or state of birth. When applying for a first-time a passport a STATE CERTIFIED Birth Certificate is required.

Certificate of Citizenship

A document issued to U.S. Citizen born abroad at age 16 all U.S. Citizens born abroad must decide which country they wish to retain citizenship. When the U.S. is selected a certificate of citizenship is issued by the USCIS. This certificate must be applied for through USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Citizens Born Abroad

A person born abroad of parents or parent who are/is U.S. Citizen (s). All U.S. Citizens born abroad must be registered at birth with the consulate section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate located in the country of birth or at any U.S. Consulate office abroad. The Consular report of Birth Abroad report is registered with the Department of State and a Birth Certificate is maintained in Washington, DC.

Client Letter of Authorization

This is a letter giving permission from a client to the passport agency or consulate of foreign government allowing the visa or courier service to act on behalf of the client.

Consulate Section

A department of an embassy dealing with visas and other travel documents. Consulate offices are also located in areas outside the Embassy. The consulate sections provide services to their citizens and to citizens needing assistance in obtaining travel documentation.

Consulate Fees

A fee or fees charged by the consulate of the country to process visas and for other services offered by the consulate section.

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Denied Boarding

Passengers not meeting the requirements to travel abroad can and will be denied boarding by Airlines, Cruise Lines, Rail and other means of transportation. If they transport undocumented passengers, they can be fined.

Diplomatic Passport

A passport issued to official Department of State employees and others on official business. This passport is dark red and is not to be used for any travel other that that of official business of the U.S. Government or of foreign governments. Official Passport holders may also hold a regular passport for personal travel. Contractors and private citizens who are performing official duties for the U.S. Government may hold this type of passport.

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Embassy

The official Diplomatic office that represents a country within another country. Example: U.S. Embassy in Canada represents the United States in matters involving the two countries. The Ambassador is the official representative of the United States in that country.

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Green Card

Proof of permanent residence in the United States. These cards are issued by USCIS (United States Citizens and Immigration Service). Most countries have a similar document for people residing permanently in the country. The name "green card" refers to the color of the original card issued, which were green. They are still referred to as green cards today, although they are now white.

Invitation

An official invitation to visit a country for some purpose. Normally, the company, or person you are visiting in the foreign country makes the request for you to visit the country. The formal invitation could be in the form of a government letter, Chamber of Commerce letter or other type document as outlined by the regulations of the country you plan to visit.

I-94

A card issued to arriving aliens to the U.S. which clearly states the type of visa under which they are entering the U.S. and the length of stay permitted. It is issued in Customs upon arrival. The card is surrendered upon departure from the U.S. as proof of departure. When applying for visas in the U.S. other foreign governments may request to see the I-94 as proof of legal entry in the U.S. The I-94 acts as the official duration of permitted stay and is valid even when the visa stamp in the passport is expired.

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Jurisdiction

  1. The region or area over which the consulate has authority.
  2. Rules dictated by a government under which a consulate can issue a visa or other document.

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Legalization

The process of confirming the legality of a document which is to be used for some legal purpose overseas. Also known as Authentication or Legalization.

Length of Stay

The time period requested when applying for a Visa. This dates of stay on the visa application can effect the duration of stay on the visa issued and should be as exact as possible.

Lost Passport

A passport that is lost or stolen prior to the date of expiration.

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Military Passport

U.S. Armed Forces and their dependents are issued no-fee passport for the purpose of traveling from the U.S. to a duty station in a foreign country. This passport cannot be used for pleasure or business travel. It can be used only for official business while traveling in connection with duty abroad, (i.e. living abroad in connection with military duty as a dependent).

Naturalization Certificate

A certificate issued by U.S. Immigrations and Naturalization Service to applicants who meet the requirements for citizenship in the United States. This proof of citizenship is used to obtain passports and other business matters which require proof of citizenship in the country.

Next of Kin

The person who will be notified in the event of injury or death abroad. This person is listed on your passport application and will be the person contacted in the event a problem occurs abroad.

Number of Entries

Visas are issued as Single or Multi entry. The number of entries and the period of stay for each entry is normally written somewhere on the visa stamp, however it is not always in English.

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Official Passport

Passports issued to citizens who are going overseas to do some type of business for the U.S. Government, branches of the Military or other official travel. It is a Requirement that the sponsoring department must request an official passport using a U.S. Government Form. A special unit of the Department of State in Washington D.C. processes those requests.

Passport

A document of identity. A passport identifies you by name, place, date of birth and country of birth. It is used as proof of citizenship allowing you to pass to and from your home country and other countries.

Parental Permission

The U.S. Government now requires that both parents give permission for a minor child to obtain a passport. If one of the parents is not available a 3053 can be presented in lieu of the parent’s presence. This document must be signed in front of a notary. If the parent is divorced and has sole custody a certified divorce paper stating the custody can be used. If a parent has died then a certified death certificate can be presented. Both parents must present a driver’s license or other acceptable I.D.

Passport Photos

Photos accepted by the U.S. Passport Service with the passport application. Two identical photos 2 inches by 2 inches in size with an image size from bottom of chin to top of head (including hair) between 1 and 1 3/8 inches. They must be clear, full front face with white background. Digital images must be clear and photographs must be in color.

No uniforms, hats or dark glasses may be worn and photos must have been taken recently. Retouched photos are not acceptable. Homemade photographs are NOT acceptable.

Photo requirements for countries other than the United States may be different.

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Processing Time

The time is takes to process a passport, visa or other document.

Proof of Identity

A valid Government issued document, with photograph which identifies person by name, photo, and other information. (I.e. State ID , School ID, Passport, Company ID. ID must have a number and meet U.S. Government criteria).

Proof of Insurance

A letter, insurance policy or other evidence that proves that you have healthy insurance coverage or a travel insurance policy for the period of your trip will usually meet this requirement. This gives medical expense coverage while visiting the foreign country. If medical treatment is required in a foreign country or on a commercial vessel, the passenger could be required to pay full payment for service rendered prior to leaving the country.

Proof of Status

A document, letter or other official item that proves that you are in the United States legally. This would be a green card, I-94 or confirmation of status from the ICE.

Proof of Nationality

A certified document that proves the location of your birth or a citizenship certificate or other nationalization paper that proves that the completion of the application of citizenship.

Permanent Resident

A person who lives permanently in a country other than that of their birth or citizenship.

Power of Attorney

A statement limited on scope, which allows authority for the visa service to deliver and pick up passports from The U.S. Passport Service.

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Restricted Passport

A passport issued for a period of time less that that full validity. This document is normally issued to citizens who have not completely satisfied the passport service as to their right of citizenship but who have a need to travel prior to completing the process. Citizens who have their passport stolen abroad and cannot produce their birth certificates, or citizens who have lost several passports will be issued a limited or restricted passport.

This term also applies to passport for travel to a specific Area. Example: to travel to a country that does not permit stamps from certain other countries in the passport. In 2005 the U.S. government started limiting temporary passports abroad due to new laws requiring an I.D. chip. Citizens having passport issues will be issued a one year passport which they must extend to full validity upon returning to the U.S.

Re-entry permit

A document issued to stateless persons or permanent residents of the U.S. who do not hold a valid passport for the country of their citizenship. This document is issued by U.S. Immigration to allow these aliens to travel abroad. It is normally valid for two years.

Refer

A process by which a foreign consulate request permission from their Foreign department to issue a Visa to a person who is not in the proper jurisdiction or over which the consulate has no authority. This process can take from a few days to a few months depending on the type of visa being requested and the nationality of the person requesting the visa.

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Service Fee

A fee charged for services by International Visa Service.

Transit

Moving through a country without leaving a restricted area.

Transit Visa

A visa allowing limited short stays for person traveling through that country to get to another country. Onward transportation within a specific time frame plus a visa for the next country being visited must be submitted to obtain a transit visa. Transit visas are also required by most countries for aircraft changes between airports no matter how long the stay in the country may be.

Tourist

A person visiting a destination for the purpose of sightseeing, visiting friends or doing activities purely for pleasure.

Tourist Card

A card, required for entry by many countries for all visitors arriving in the country for that purpose. Many tourist cards are obtained from the Airline or Carrier prior to arrival in the country.

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Vaccinations

Inoculations to protect citizens in foreign countries.

Vaccination Certificate

An International Health Certificate is a yellow card which can be purchased for $1.00 from the County Health Department. It serves as an official record of vaccinations and other shots. It is required, by some countries, prior to granting entry into the country. It is required if traveling from an infectious area.

Validity Of Passport

A period of time that the document remains valid. U.S. Adult passports are normally valid for a period of ten years. Children's passports are valid for five years. Some passports are not issued for full validity.

Validity of Visa

A period of time for which the visa is issued. This time varies according to country and authority of the issuing consulate officer.

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Visa

A document issued and placed inside the passport which allows the holder to do "something" in the country, such as be a tourist or conduct business or work. There are more than 500,000 different types of visas among the 270 countries.

Zone

The area for which a consulate is responsible. This consulate can issue visas and other documents for persons living and working in this area only.

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