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State Department wants passport applicants to reveal lifetime employment history

By David Edwards
Monday, April 25, 2011 13:09 EDT
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The U.S. Department of State has proposed a new questionnaire that would make it almost impossible for some people to get a passport.

The new document (PDF) would require that certain applicants submit a list of every residence and every job they’ve ever had since birth.

In February, the department published a request in the Federal Register allowing 60 days for comment before the new rules go into effect.

“The Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport, form DS-5513, is used to supplement an application for a U.S. passport when the applicant submits citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity,” according to a supporting statement (PDF) issued along with the request for comment.

“This form is used prior to passport issuance and solicits information relating to the respondent’s family, birth circumstances, residences, schooling, and employment,” the statement added.

“In addition to this primary use of the data, the DS-5513 may also be used as evidence in the prosecution of any individual who makes a false statement on the application and for other uses as set forth in the Prefatory Statement and the Passport System of Records Notice (State-26).”

The document also requires some applicants to submit information about the mother’s pre-natal and post-natal care, the mother’s residence one year before and after the birth, the persons in attendance at the birth and religious or institutional recordings of the birth.

“The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form,” Consumer Traveler’s Edward Hasbrouck noted.

The Consumer Travel Alliance opposes the new form as “exceeding the statutory authority of the DOS, unconstitutional, and in violation of U.S. obligations pursuant to international human rights treaties to which the U.S. is a party,” according to draft comments (PDF) prepared by the group.

“[C]hoosing to require an applicant for a passport to complete the proposed Form DS-5513, which few if any applicants could complete, would amount to a de facto decision to deny that applicant a passport. And that decision would be standardless, arbitrary, and illegal,” they added.

The State Department had not returned a call asking for comment at the time of publication.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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