Hello, I am a US citizen. I am currently in a foreign country. I cannot find any release form that allows me to travel right now to the US. I know in the United States they are not allowed to make this clear, so I will be changing my name and submitting an application to be deported to the US under my current (cancelled) name if I can not prove that I have a release form to travel to the United States right now. What is a legal process, and does it apply to me if I don’t have a US passport? Thanks in advance for any assistance.
My expectation is that you can’t travel to the US on your current passport. And that you should be working to get a new passport with a new name. No other state I know of has good laws on this.
All State Department passport operations are being disrupted because of the partial government shutdown. Most State Department processing is canceled, and US embassies and consulates are closed to the public during the shutdown. Until the shutdown is resolved, no applications for new passports can be processed. When you do have to apply for a passport for your departure to the US, you will be required to make your application with your name changed from your name you were using at the time of your original application.
It is a legal process for US citizens to get a new passport with a new name after a name change request is approved by the US passport office in your foreign country. The process can be fairly complicated, however, and some documents are required for the process. Some information about the process is available on the State Department website.
The first step is to submit a current name change request form with an estimate of the fee, including a copy of your passport card. The fee is $166.60, including taxes. Be aware that the fee for a passport with a new name is usually at least $25 higher than the fee for a passport with the same name, so a passport with a new name is not cheap.
Once you have the estimate from the passport office, visit the State Department’s passport services website, which is updated monthly, to see what information is available regarding your name change request.
If you get your name change approved by the passport office in your foreign country, you will then have to contact the American Embassy in your country to process a return to the US on your current passport. It usually takes at least 8 business days for the embassy to notify the US consulate in your foreign country of your decision to return to the US. Once you receive your confirmation, you must return to the American Embassy. Your name change could take 6-12 months to process, unless you are able to obtain a visa at the embassy or consulate in your foreign country for your new name. If you could receive a visa to the US before your name change was approved, then the visa process should be completed by the embassy in your foreign country in less than 2 months.
For most applicants, your name change will not need to be done until you are required to travel. If you choose to wait to apply until you are required to travel, you will face a higher cost for your passport and a longer processing time.
If you decide to wait to apply until your name change is approved, you should keep a copy of all your passport applications that contain your name changes for the next five years, which will help you to determine when you may have to re-apply for a new passport and to apply for an expedited return to the US if your name change is not approved in your passport application.
If you are unfamiliar with the process, my recommendation is to ask for clarification about your name change request if you were facing a potential new name that required an urgent application. Usually the State Department will provide, through the license plate and letter provided to you for the name change, enough information about your name change to assist you in your request. Remember, however, that the name change question will require you to start the process and then act quickly to get on the timeline.
Kartikay Goswami, a lawyer, is a member