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FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Why can't the Department of State just do my passport in one day?

The U.S. Passport Service processes millions of passports every year.  There are offices national-wide and numerous foreign offices where passports are processed. There are approximately 100 employed in this branch of the Department of State. These figures limit the numbers of passports, which can be issued in a single day. Included those numbers of applications accepted daily are, passport for same day to three day processing as well as the normal flow of applications for citizen who have time to allow their document to go through the system.

The system CANNOT process every passport application in the same day. To eliminate overload caused by people flocking in person to the passport service for fast passports congress passed a law in 1996 that allowed a surcharge of $60.00 per application in addition to the normal fees for regular processing. This measure has reduced the number of rush applications, however there continues to be many Americans who have legitimate need for quick passports, due to unanticipated opportunities and emergencies to travel abroad.

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Why is processing a visa so complicated?

Understanding how the consular system is setup explains how problems can occur while processing visas. The Consular system is similar in structure to the military: Ambassador, Consulate or Vice Consulate. There are ranks and responsibilities. With each order comes authority. Due to the size of the United States and it's importance in the global economy, many countries have found that it is necessary to have consulate and trade offices in several cities around the country. To balance the workload, they have split the United States into zones. States, in the same geographic regions usually are assigned to a consulate located nearest them. The exception to this rule is smaller countries who cannot afford to have numerous consulates; therefore, they have only one located in Washington D.C. or another city of considerable status.

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Why are there different requirements for every country?

The Visa Officer in each of these zones, using the guidelines of his country, can determine what requirements and in many cases, what fees apply at that consulate. Processing of applications as a general rule is not permitted outside the zone. It is important to note that you must make sure that the information you have is for the consulate office zoned for your region. For example, many consulates have websites for their consulate only. The rules, times of operation and other requirements for THAT consulate may not apply to the regions your physical location. Each country has different boundaries for the zones.

Visa Officers are charged with protecting the citizens of their country from dishonest and unethical foreigners or from foreigners who cannot support themselves and might become a "ward of the state". Regional offices help in reducing territorial responsibilities so that the consulate officer can be in touch with what is happening in his/her zone politically, economically and socially. The visa officers decisions on whether to issue a visa or not is made based on some of the information gathered through local media, corporate reports and official public documents submitted with the application. Depending on the country, documentation may be required to prove that the company or individual are of good standing and of good moral character before a visa may be issued.

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What should I ask when calling my consulate?

When calling Consulates it is important to understand that your information is only as good as the persons understanding what you need. Many young and new employees in consulates have difficulty understanding regional accents and dialects spoken in the United States. Misunderstandings about what is needed and the requirements for that type of visa is a common complaint of U.S. visa applicants. The use of one word incorrectly can change the requirements and type of visa for which you apply.

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How long does it take to get a visa?

Visa information is based on the nationality of the applicant and the status they have in the United States. Many countries required that you obtain your visa in the country of your residency. You can never assume that you will be given a visa in a foreign country without a lengthy wait. If the consulate officer in the other country does not have authority to issue a visa, they must refer the application to the home office of their country for approval. This process can take several weeks depending on the country.

International Visa Service provides checking all of the requirements to insure that the application will be submitted correctly.

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