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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

CONSULATE LEAVES AMERICAN STRANDED

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Most of the time, I write about problems immigrants have
with US immigration officials, but this week I heard from an American in
Valencia, Spain who had her purse snatched right after arriving. Gone were her
credit cards, cash, and, most importantly, her passport.  After dealing with the police, she contacted
her family and because the crime happened on a Friday, was told that no money
could be wired until banks opened on the following Monday. When this citizen
went to the US consulate in Valencia, she was told she needed to pay $250 for a
new passport. She explained that she was without money or identification and
the consular officer told her that it is their policy to not provide any
financial help and that she should call her family. Fortunately, a local church
showed mercy and provided help until the money arrived a few days later.



I'm left stunned that our consulates are instructed to tell
American citizens who have been crime victims that they are on their own for
something as basic as waiving the replacement passport application fee. I'm
hoping I hear from someone at the State Department telling me that this was all
a mistake and that we can expect something more if we're faced with a similar
situation.

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Comments

  1. Another voice's Avatar
    Bureaucrats will be bureaucrats....these people do not care about anybody, they just work there and collect their salary....customer service you ask what's that???? they will say!!!
  2. Grace's Avatar
    When my parents' passports were stolen in Turkey, they had to pay for replacements at the consulate - they don't issue replacement documents for free. According to my parents, they paid the standard passport fee, and were issued a temporary 3 month passport that was valid for return to the US. Because they had already paid the passport fee, their permanent passports were mailed to them after they returned to the US.

    I don't understand why the consulates can't issue the 3 month temporary passport for free in an emergency - the traveler can get back to the US, and pay for the replacement later.
  3. John Brannigan's Avatar
    As someone that lives in a forign country and my only outside connection is the US Embassy, I am surprised that anyone would be stunned. USCIS/Homeland insecurity is the last persons to go to for help. You can't even renew a passport without an appointment. If you want basic information they direct you to thier website. They need to remove services from thier name.
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