The U.S. Department of State represents the United States at more than 270 diplomatic locations around the world. Thus, this agency governs the relationships between the United States and other countries as well as restrictions placed on citizens between these countries. In July of 2001, the U.S. Department of State implemented a law regarding passport application procedures. This law, known as the Two-Parent Consent Law, was then amended in 2008. In basic terms, this law requires that both parents consent to the passport application for a minor U.S. citizen under the age of 16. The law was meant to decrease the likelihood that a U.S. passport will be used in an international parental-child abduction. Thus, whether you are married, divorced, or single, federal law will require that both parents consent to the issuance of a U.S. passport for any child under the age of 16.
Requirements of the Law
Under U.S. immigration law, a passport application for a child under the age of 16 must be filed in person by a parent or an individual specially authorized as a person “in loco parentis.” This term refers to an individual who assumes a parent’s status and responsibilities for another individual without formal adoption, such as a foster parent or custodial agent. The minor in question must then appear in person when applying for the passport.
Either parent, whether themselves a U.S. citizen or not, may apply for a U.S. passport on behalf of the minor child. In addition to establishing the child’s identity, U.S. citizenship, and parental relationship, the adult applicant must also evidence his or her compliance with the Two-Parent Consent Law. The best way to do this is for both parents to appear at the application. However, this may become complicated if the parents divorced or never married, or if one parent does not wish to appear or even have the passport granted.
If the other parent cannot appear, you still may be granted a passport if you can show proof of one of the following:
- You have sole legal authority
- One parent is unable to appear
- You cannot locate the other parent
- Neither parent is able to appear
The Two-Parent Consent Law governs all passport applications made at domestic U.S. passport agencies in the U.S. Furthermore, the law also applies to passport applications made at U.S. consular offices abroad. The only instance in which the Two-Parent Consent Law may be waived is if there is a sudden emergency that threatens the health or safety of the child and requires the issuance of a passport.
If you are attempting to get a passport for your child and have further questions concerning the United States law, please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. We understand that this process is complicated and can be further complicated when assistance of another parent is required. Our attorneys will work with you to navigate through this process to ensure that your child’s rights are protected.