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5 Changes Coming to United States Passports

american-878059_640In the wake of several adjustments to the country’s immigration policies, the government is also planning a number of changes to the appearance and policy of the U.S. passport. If you’re looking to travel abroad soon, now is as good a time as any to seek passport renewal.

Below are a few things that you should know about changes to passport policy, which involves the application process among many other factors.

1. Renew Your Passport Now

Ten years ago, the 9/11 Commission enacted a law that required passports for all travel to and from the following:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • The Caribbean

Naturally, the rule led to a surge of applications for passports valid for 10 years, all of which are set to expire next year. And with millions of passport holders due for renewal, it is best file your application as early as you can to avoid the renewal rush.

The process usually takes about six weeks, and that doesn’t include delays, which are known to happen. According to the State Department, more than 15.5 million passports were renewed in the 2015 fiscal year alone.

2. REAL ID Act Expected to Contribute to Volume of Applications

The passage of the REAL ID Act means that future passports will have different security features such as a machine-readable data chips. And because a number of states (such as Maine and Missouri) have yet to implement the technology on their drivers’ licenses, many individuals may rush to apply for machine-ready passports. All licenses are required to be compliant by 2020, which gives you some time to apply for a passport.

3. Passports to Have New Security Features

As mentioned previously, the next generation of passports is expected to have new security features to improve security and prevent fraud. New passports will have data chips that provide personal information upon scanning, and will be lighter to due to having only 28 pages—more pages can be added upon request of the passport holder.

4. Check Your Child’s Passport

Children’s passports are only valid for 5 years, so be sure to check their validity if you expect to be traveling with the kids soon. Again, the sooner you act, the easier it will be to avoid the expected application rush next year. It is also worth pointing out that children’s passports are subject to a longer process with more paperwork.

Slight Changes to Passport Rules

Applying for or renewing a passport is still a relatively straightforward process. You can still apply online through the State Department website, or in person at any accredited agency. Just be sure that you read the instructions carefully and take note of all updated requirements, such as the rule against wearing eyeglasses. Passport pictures, however, can be resubmitted to the State Department without any fees.

Learn more about the government’s new passport policy from the immigration law experts of the Lyttle Law Firm. Find out how we can help you by calling our offices today at (512) 215.5225.