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A Luxurious Privilege: A Second U.S. Passport

A Luxurious Privilege: A Second U.S. Passport

For busy professionals, international lawyers, generic jet setters and others who travel the globe regularly, or often to certain countries, you may be best served by obtaining a second U.S. Passport. Also, American university students planning to study abroad for a semester or year often need a second passport while their long-term student visas are being obtained. This is especially the case for anyone whose frequent travel requires obtaining one or more visas, or where visiting certain countries means that travel to other countries is either restricted or denied altogether.

Few people, even those who constantly travel internationally, or to countries requiring visas to enter, are even aware that obtaining a second U.S. passport is an option. Despite that I routinely travel in excess of 100,000 miles a year and have been to 111 countries, I was unaware of this privilege of obtaining a second U.S. passport until recently.

In looking at my long checklist for an upcoming jaunt to West Africa, of the seven countries I would be reporting from, one didn’t require an entry visa, five had visa on arrival options, but one would need an entry visa in my passport prior to arrival in Ghana. According to Ghana’s Embassy website, the visa had to be obtained from their embassy in Washington, D.C. and would take seven to 10 business days even expedited, excluding FedEx time. The problem was I was shortly leaving for Norway and naturally needed my passport. However, even if I wasn’t headed to Norway, I had other international travel between returning from Norway and arriving to Ghana.

A Passport Obsession

Anyone who knows me, even marginally, knows I am obsessed with my U.S. passport for two solid (to me anyway) reasons. First, as the only American-born child of two immigrant parents, our U.S. passports were held in the highest esteem. One parent arrived to the U.S. stateless as a child during World War II, and thus viewed the U.S. passport as precious manna from the righteous heavens.

Years later, the other parent had to give up their birth country passport to obtain U.S. citizenship. No matter how badly one wants to be American and in the U.S., I understood that was difficult. This reminds me now of the somewhat analogous adage, “You can divorce your spouse, but no matter how hard you try, you can never divorce your mother.” Birth country divorces aside, I clearly remember even though a young child, their intense pride at the naturalization ceremony. Fortunately, that rule is no longer the case for the most part, so U.S. citizens can now hold dual citizenship and thus passports from two different countries.

The second reason for my not completely irrational passport obsession is that back when dinosaurs roamed the planet ­­– in the mid-80’s – I was a college student traveling from Hong Kong to the Philippines. When the aircraft arrived in Manila, I tied my sweater around my waist, momentarily placing my passport on the empty seat next to me. Passengers deplaned and only when I arrived on that sweltering July day at immigration, did I realize I no longer had my passport.

An utterly insane odyssey ensued. Airline staff returned to the aircraft in search of my blue-and-gold, but it was gone. Filipino authorities wouldn’t let me in country without a passport, it was Saturday of July 4th holiday weekend, and no one was answering the U.S. Embassy phone in Manila. Just like Tom Hanks in his 2004 movie, The Terminal, I wandered aimlessly around the airport for 24-hours in thoroughly oppressive heat. With no answer at the embassy, and nearly deranged with exhaustion, the airline finally took pity on me, agreeing to allow me to stay at an airport hotel. They made clear I was not to leave the room, and in case I doubted them, placed an armed guard right outside my door. While the guard looked perhaps 12, his semi-automatic looked brand new.

Finally on Tuesday, four days after I arrived in Manila, the armed guard and I went to the U.S. Embassy. Only when I was on embassy grounds did he leave. Relieved as I was to be on U.S. “soil,” it quickly became clear that the staffer assigned to assist me was suspicious of my “sweater story” and started asking me leading questions, intimating that I had sold my passport given the black market’s high prices. I nearly passed out from both fear and incredulity since there was a far higher chance of me selling a kidney on the black market than my beloved passport. Ultimately he was convinced and several hours later I walked out of the embassy with my new passport.

ItsEasy.com to the Rescue      

Forty years ago, the entrepreneurial David Alwadish was fresh out of college. Soon after, with a small loan from his father, Alwadish became the youngest tenant at Rockefeller Center ­where he started doing DMV registrations for busy executives and others, including then Sr. Vice-President of Leasing at Rock Center, Chris Hagen. Shortly thereafter, Alwadish realized the passport agency was a block away, and following numerous client requests, his company started securing new passports, renewals, and visas for its clients.

 

Fast forward to today. The DMV services are still located at Rock Center while ItsEasy.com handles all passport, visa, and immigration services out of N.Y.’s The MetLife Building and at several other offices across the country. It also has corporate management programs where ItsEasy.com staff go to company offices so executives and other employees can get their passports, renewals, or visas without ever leaving their offices. It also has a top-notch concierge program for those who want to leave it all to the pros and has both regular and expedited services available.

In my case, I downloaded the ItsEasy.com app which generated an order number. The also included an incredibly convenient complimentary photo taking service. From the backseat of an Uber on my way to the airport, I snapped several photos and voilà, sent those to ItsEasy. I completed the required forms while overseas, then on arrival back to the U.S on Friday, March 1st, dropped off my passport and signed forms at FedEx. Since my original passport only had one year left before it needed renewal, I decided to renew that too in addition to obtaining the new second passport. Over the next few days, I received both email and text updates informing me where the documents were and their status which alleviated my nerves of being effectively passport-less.

Like a Phoenix rising, on March 9th, I received both passports by FedEx, signed them both, then returned one passport to ItsEasy.com they could obtain the Ghanian visa. That passport was returned to me on March 14th.  Within a mere five business days, I had my original passport renewed and obtained a second U.S. passport. Four business days after that, I received a Ghanian travel visa, half the time the Ghanian embassy stated on its site.

I never could’ve accomplished that on my own, not even close. A few things to note about second U.S. Passports. First, they have different numbers than your primary passport. Additionally, a second passport is only valid for four years, while one’s primary passport is good for 10 years. Naturally, if you lose your passport or its stolen, ItsEasy.com can assist with getting a replacement. Also, if your passport is out of pages for immigration stamps and visas, replacement is mandatory, and they can help with that too. A final note, many countries require more than six months remaining on your passport for inbound travel. So it’s best to renew early in the final year of your passport’s validity. Whatever your passport or visa needs are, ItsEasy.com will make your life far easier. Happy travels!


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About The Author

Julie L. Kessler

Julie L. Kessler is a journalist, attorney, and the author of the award-winning memoir: “Fifty-Fifty, The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at Julie@VagabondLawyer.com. This hotel hosted the writer, however content was not reviewed by it prior to publication and is solely the writer’s opinion.

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