A passport from the United States is one of the most highly sought-after passports in the world, granting you access to nearly every other country on earth. However, the benefits of a US passport also come with strict prerequisites, not the least of which is some form of US citizenship or permanent residency. In these uncertain times, naturalization to the United States is more challenging to obtain than ever. However, for international business travelers, there are still a few options that make this process easier than it is for most.
Paths to US Citizenship
While most American citizens obtained their citizenship by simply being born in the USA, this is obviously not something you can choose on your own.
A commonly-known way to obtain American citizenship is to marry an existing US citizen which grants you the right to obtain permanent residency to the country (called getting your “green card”).
Green card holders can be granted citizenship through this method of naturalization after spending at least three years inside the USA. However, for investors, this is often a long period of time to wait before submitting a passport application. It also means you’ll have to find an existing citizen who is amicable to the commitments you have to make in order to obtain the green card. If you’re already married, this can be especially tricky.
The best path to obtaining a US passport is through the American EB-5 program, which is the USA’s citizenship-by-investment program. As the most valuable passport in the world, a USA passport application has more stringent requirements for investors than most places. It also doesn’t last quite as long as passports from other countries. But if you need a passport for nearly limitless visa-free travel, the benefits of a US passport are well worth the barriers to entry.
Procedures and Processing Times for Obtaining a US Passport
First and foremost, in order to submit a passport application, an EB-5 investor must reside in the USA for at least five years. However, you’ll be granted your green card after only two years, meaning you’ll be considered a fully-naturalized permanent resident after that short period of time.
In order to qualify for the EB-5 program, a foreign investor must already carry a valid passport from an approved country of origin. Investors must have a completely clean criminal background and are subject to both medical screenings and personal interviews.
Most notably, EB-5 investments start at a commitment of $900,000 and must carry the promise of creating at least ten full-time jobs for eligible workers inside the United States.
With Bluemina’s help, you can apply for the EB-5 program to kick-start your first-time US passport application. Once you’ve gone through the arduous process of making your EB-5 investment and resided in the USA for at least five years, you’ll be eligible for your passport card and book.
It will take an additional 10-12 weeks for the US government to process your application.
Expedited Service and Other US Passport Fees
Fortunately, the USA will expedite your passport application for a nominal additional fee. A US passport book carries an application fee of $110 with an additional $35 due upon acceptance. If you live near the northern or southern border of the USA, you may apply for a passport card for only $30 (plus the $35 acceptance fee) which grants you land-based travel in and out of the country to Canada and Mexico.
Typically, you’ll apply for your US passport from inside the country, but it’s possible to obtain your American travel documents at an embassy or consulate overseas, if necessary.
If you need to expedite your passport, you can pay an additional $60 fee which will reduce your processing time to as little as four weeks depending on the backlog. If you have more immediate travel plans, you may make an appointment with an approved passport agency that can grant your passport even faster.
In cases of life-or-death emergencies, you may be able to obtain a passport in just three business days so long as you can provide sufficient evidence or documentation that demonstrates the urgency of your need.
Note that you’ll need to renew your passport every ten years or each time you fill your passport book with stamps.
You’re unable to add blank pages to your existing US passport book as of 2016, so you’ll have to be prepared in advance to renew your US passport if you travel outside the country regularly.
Working With Bluemina to Obtain Your Passport
While you’ll apply for your passport directly with the US Department of State, Bluemina can proudly act as your authorized agent to facilitate your EB-5 application for naturalization.
You can’t get a US passport without first establishing permanent residency, so let Bluemina provide you with a free consultation to learn more about how to obtain this permanent residency so you can get your US passport as quickly as possible.