Green Card Re-entry Documents
"I read with interest the recent article titled 'Passport Travel.' I am an Irish citizen by birth and also a naturalized U.S. citizen living and working here. I will have to renew my passport by June as it expires in August. "What would happen if I get called to Ireland in an emergency during the time that my U.S. passport is being processed? It could happen and I'm concerned. "I asked this question recently at an immigration advice center and was advised if this happened that I'd need my naturalization certificate, the copy of the money order sent for the U.S. passport renewal and my Irish passport, and to advise the U.S. immigration officer that I got called to Ireland for an emergency. Is this correct?"
Sort of, but traveling with a U.S. naturalization certificate as a means of re-entry into the country is absolutely not advisable and, in fact, may not work to your satisfaction. We contacted the media liaison at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the Homeland Security agency charged with administering U.S. border admissions. Spokesperson Lucille Cirillo stated that a carrier transporting person(s) without proper documentation to enter the U.S. are subject to fines under Section 273 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Sure enough, this provision states, "It shall be unlawful for any person "to bring to the United States from any place outside thereof (other than from foreign contiguous territory) any alien who does not have a valid passport and an unexpired visa, if a visa was required under this act . . . the carrier who brings aliens to the United States becomes, in effect, an insurer that the aliens have met the visa requirements of the act." Having said that, Cirillo states that in extreme cases, U.S. citizens have indeed traveled using their naturalization certificates. "In the case of an extreme emergency, a naturalized U.S. citizen may use his naturalization certificate to return to the U.S. via air travel," she said. "Prior to boarding a passenger without a passport, the airline will contact U.S. (CBP) and provide an explanation of the emergency situation and substantial proof that an emergency exists. Based on the totality of the circumstances, CBP may authorize the airline to board the passenger. Please note that these cases are extremely rare." As you can see, attempting to travel without a U.S. passport poses a risky proposition and should be avoided at all costs. You should also know that U.S. passport holders can apply for expedited service when renewing a passport. The State Department notes that it's currently taking two weeks, door to door, for expedited requests to be processed. It is also possible to make appointments for faster service at a State Department regional passport agency by calling 1-877-487-2778. (The regional office in New York is located at 376 Hudson Street in Manhattan.) Travelers also make use of various independent services that can turn around passport requests within a matter of hours - for a substantial fee, of course. For more on U.S. passport issues, visit www.travel.state.gov. The site also provides information on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will require U.S. citizens, as of June 1 of this year, to provide passports when re-entering the country from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean by land or sea. Currently, a proof of identity and proof of citizenship document - such as a naturalization certificate - suffice.