Oksana and I are hoping to go to Australia this November, but we’ve been putting off purchasing tickets for a long time. There’s a lot we have to do first: Arrange for time off from work, get visas, buy the plane tickets. Before we could do any of that, we had to resolve our passport situation.
Primarily, we were biding our time until Oksana received her U.S. citizenship, but I needed to renew my own passport, as well. I got my first passport in 1997 (a decade ago!) for a Language and Culture of Mexico class and it’s set to expire in December. While technically it expires after our planned vacation, Australia would prefer I have at least six months remaining on it.
Oksana received her U.S. Naturalization certificate on Friday, July 27th, and we briefly considered submitted the paperwork for our passports within the hour.
We didn’t know for sure beforehand, but she would have been able to apply for her passport immediately after the oath ceremony. She would have had to send off her valuable, original naturalization certificate without making copies of it (but like a birth certificate, you’re not supposed to, anyway. You’re not legally allowed to make any copies of that document.)
We already had our passport photos, so all we had to do over the weekend was fill out the online applications supplied by the state department website. Oksana filled hers out, I filled out a separate renewal form. On the very next business day after the ceremony, Monday on our lunch break, we met to stand in line together at the post office.
It took our entire lunch to get our forms mailed off, but we were happy to do it. Both Oksana and I paid extra to have our passports expedited – we’d read about the horror stories in the news. If our passports were stuck in processing for much more than a month, I doubt we’d be able to arrange our trip to Australia in time. The postal employee who took our certified, tracked, and insured envelopes confidently assured us we’d have our new passports in three weeks. Fair enough.
That was Monday. On Saturday, Oksana’s new passport was sitting in our post office box. Of course, there was no sign of my passport anywhere, but that’s okay because I figured the renewal process used a different queue. In fact, my passport arrived only five days after hers. Praise be to the Seattle Regional Passport Agency!
We still have to work out all those logistics before we can go to Australia, but I’m looking forward to the prospect of traveling under the same passport as Oksana. Easier visas! Sharing lines through immigration checkpoints! RFID chip vulnerabilities!