Monday, March 31, 2014

Another thing on important papers....passports and visas!

So your son has just been accepted to an overseas program. WooHoo! Well, slow down, there are some logistics involved and of course, one of the first few phone calls they make are to Mom. 
After you're initially proud of them for taking care of the application process on their own and happy for them because they get to have this wonderful opportunity, then reality sets in, visas and deadlines.
1) Do they have a valid passport?
2) Do they actually physically have it with them at college? or Do you have it at home in a safe place (because Moms keep this stuff in a safe place)?
3) Is the passport valid? or Has it expired?
4) If it's expired, this is when life flips into high gear....one of the things your Gen Yer will need is a certified birth certificate, you know, with the embossed stamp on it. If Mom doesn't have one filed away in that safe place, your Gen Yer will have to chase after it.  I strongly recommend that your kid does the chasing...a learning experience in and of itself. If Mom takes care of this...lesson missed.  :)
Of course if it's expired then for an extra chunk of change you can get the passport request expedited and according to the travel.state.gov website that's a 2-3 week process and if you request it on a regular cycle it's 4-6 weeks.
Why is any of this important? Well, your Gen Yer will need a visa (most likely) to study abroad and in order to get a visa, they need a valid passport with extra pages available, so...
5) If it's valid and Mom has it at home, Mom's got to send the passport certified mail or FedEX (some traceable way) so that your kid can take care of the visa steps.
Of course time is of the essence on all of these actions, especially if it's the end of the semester and they're going next semester. If it's Spring and they're going in the Fall, you have a little cushion, but not much.

One thing I've noticed with our friends from other countries, they have their passports and handle their passports much like we do our driver's licenses, we on the other hand are either much more cautious about them (not a bad thing) or have a disregard for their significance. Wherever your child may fall on this scale, it's a good idea to have a conversation with them about this, because now that they're older, they should be responsible for them, holding onto them and renewing them, etc.
But you'll be involved initially, because you probably have the passport or you have the certified birth certificate that they'll need to request a passport...
~Beppie

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