Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Well, we ventured in to downtown LA once again to apply for our little citizen's proof of citizenship. Why? While they tell us it isn't necessary, they don't really mean it.

For example, in order to apply for a US Passport (something we wouldn't even consider NOT doing although a shockingly small percentage of Americans hold them - heck, even the possible future leader of the free world, Sarah Palin, didn't have a passport until just last year!!), we must provide proof of US Citizenship. How do you prove you're a US Citizen? Normally, one would provide a copy of one's birth certificate. Easy? Of course not!

It is true that we should receive a copy of our little one's birth certificate sometime in the next year, but we don't have it now. We have other documents in our possession that should serve the purpose, but as the Wicked Witch of Social Security demonstrated, the reliability of those documents as proof is questionable in many (most?) situations. It's not that the documents aren't legitimate. It is simply that many government workers and others with an interest in such matters are unfamiliar with them and with the variations in the laws and documents from state to state.

Why is a passport important? Here's just one reason other than the fact that it is a relatively easy and reliable way to prove citizenship for many, although not all, things in life: it's been my experience that if you don't have a passport, you won't be able to travel outside the US. Fortunately, I learned this lesson early in my life when I missed out on a FREE trip to Africa as a new high school graduate when someone backed out of their prepaid trip at the last minute. A FREE trip to Africa?! Sign me up!! What's that? I need a passport? Oh. Umm...frick!! I immediately applied for a passport and have held it every since - just in case. I was rewarded years after receiving my first passport with a very last minute business trip to Israel that couldn't have happened without a passport in waiting and I have been rewarded many times since.

But I digress.

For those of you skeptical of your potential for opportunities for surprise last minute international travel, there are other more important reasons to consider obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship. The most critical reason to apply for a US Citizenship Certificate is that it is the only way to update the USCIS database to reflect the citizenship status of your little IR-4 former immigrant. I don't know anyone that wants to risk a tussle with the USCIS database either now or at any very inconvenient time in the future, so it's best to just get this last little business cleared up ASAP.

Bite the bullet and write the check - a whopping $460(!) (how on earth could it cost so much to get a purportedly unnecessary document when a US Passport costs "only" $100?!) and your family will sleep better at night. I know we will - assuming we actually receive the thing without any further hassles, that is.

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