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  Finance | Financial advice | Immigration | Special Needs | Accounting | Business | Labor Law | Asset Protection

IMMIGRATION

NEW U.S. PASSPORT CARDS STARTING FEB. 1


Gail S. Seeram
By GAIL S. SEERAM

U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for the new U.S. Passport Card beginning Feb. 1, in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. The cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008. The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same standards.

The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book. The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. For adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children. To facilitate the frequent travel of U.S. citizens living in border communities and to meet the Department of Homeland Security operational needs at land borders, the passport card will contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip will link the card to a stored record in secure government databases. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.

How secure is the card?

Because the wallet-sized Passport Card does not offer as many opportunities to embed security features as a passport book, the Department has decided to use laser

engraving and will include state-of-the-art security features to mitigate against the possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip.

Is there a threat from skimming personal information or tracking American citizens?

The RFID technology used in the passport card will enable the card to be read at a distance by an authorized CBP reader mounted alongside the traffic lane. The chip contains no biographic data as is the case with the e-passport. The chip will have a unique number linking the card to a secure database maintained by DHS and State Department. However, to address concerns that passport card bearers can by tracked by this technology, it is required that the vendor provide a sleeve that will prevent the card from being read while inside it.

Gail S. Seeram, an immigration attorney, handles cases involving family petitions, business/investors visas, citizenship, deportation, asylum, work authorization, and extension of status. Call her office toll free at 1-877-GAIL-LAW (1-877-424-5529), send an email at gail@go2lawyer.com or visit her Web site at www.go2lawyer.com.



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