White House approves new “long forms” for some passport applicants


After a year-long “review,” the White House on August 12, 2013, approved the State Department’s proposed new “long form” questionnaires for some (unspecified) subset of applicants for US passports.

In approving these forms, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) ignored overwhelming public outrage at these questionnaires.

The forms include such questions as:

  • List all your parent(s) residences one year before your birth.
  • Parent(s) place of employment at the time of your birth (Dates of employment, Name of employer, Address of employer).
  • Did your mother receive medical care while pregnant with you and/or up to one year after your birth? (Name of hospital or other facility, Address, Name of Doctor, Approximate dates of appointments).
  • Please provide the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present at your birth such as medical personnel, family members, etc.
  • Please list any schools, day care centers, or developmental programs you attended from birth to age 18 in or outside of the United States.
  • Please list all of your permanent residences inside and outside of the United States starting with your birth until age 18.

The proposed forms were slightly (but not significantly) revised by the State Department during the review by OMB, but there are still no publicly-disclosed guidelines for which passport applicants would be sent one or both of these “long forms.”  The Identity Project requested this information from the State Department more than two years ago under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the State Department has not yet responded to this request. (This is, we’ve been told, typical of the State Department’s failure to comply with FOIA deadlines.) The most reasonable inference is that the new forms are designed to be impossible to complete, so as to provide a pretext to deny you a passport if the State Department doesn’t like your looks (or your opinions, or whatever).

The State Department has also ignored a formal complaint that these conditions for passport issuance violate U.S. obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and a FOIA request for any records of what (if anything) was done with that complaint.

OMB declined written requests to meet with them to discuss objections to the proposed forms. OMB policy is to meet with groups interested in its reviews of proposed regulations, but it doesn’t apply that policy to its reviews of proposed “information collections.”

In the course of the review by OMB, the State Department admitted that, as we had already reported, it has already been using these forms illegally.

But until the forms were approved (as they now have been) by OMB, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) prohibited the State Department from denying anyone a passport or imposing any other penalties for failure or refusal to fill out these forms.

These are the forms in question:

Form DS-5513, “Supplemental Questionnaire to Determine Entitlement for a U.S. Passport”:

Form DS-5520, ” Supplemental Questionnaire to Determine Identity for a U.S. Passport”:

Now that these forms have been approved, objections to the denial of a passport on the basis of failure to complete these forms (or to do so to the satisfaction of the State Department) will have to be based on other grounds than the PRA.  These objections may be more fundamental, but may also be more difficult to establish in administrative or judicial proceedings.

If you are a US citizen but are denied a US passport because you are unable or unwilling to answer these questions, or you are prevented from entering or leaving the USA because you don’t have a passport, we’d like to hear your story.

  • sirwired

    These forms were probably created to formalize the process for passport applicants without a normal Vital Records Office birth certificate or those with ID issues. If you look at the current “normal” application it talks about “secondary evidence of US Citizenship”; instead of supplemental form instructions, it’s now formalized as part of a form; the questions seem to line up. Same thing with “Secondary evidence of identification”; again, the old requirements are now formalized with a form.

    I don’t see any evidence of a policy change here; the previous situation, which involved omission-prone free-form affidavits and collections of documents will now be part of a checklist that the applicant can actually see. The checklist existed before, but it wasn’t on a form; it was part of agency policy instead. A distinction without a difference.

  • sirwired

    As a side-note, this process was probably triggered by a scandal a few years ago with midwife-written birth certificates in Texas. Apparently some were providing fake ones for a fee, and the Passport office announced they would no longer take the things as evidence of US birth. Which, as you might imagine, caused no end of trouble for people for whom that was indeed their normal birth documentation.

    Now, if the evidence is in question, an applicant gets the supplemental form, which they fill out as best they can. The instructions explicitly state that filling out every question is not required in order to obtain a passport; they will make a judgement call (just as they always have had to) when deciding to issue a passport.

    Again, things are proceeding as they always have, but now there’s an official form instead of just a letter saying “tell us more” with vague suggestions as to what “more” is.

  • NedLevi

    I think you are likely correct with your two comments.

    Incidentally, I could list all my parents’ residences starting the year before I was born, my parents’ employers and their address at the time of my birth, the schools I attended from birth to age 18, and all my residences from birth to age 18. There is no way, like most people, I could answer any questions about my mother’s prenatal care, or who was present at my birth, other than my mother. I do know my father wasn’t at the hospital at the time of my birth. He was playing bridge. My mother hadn’t been able to reach him when she went to the hospital, and the hospital was only able to reach him about 15 minutes before I was born. I only know this because it’s a tale which has been told in my family over and over again. My mother used to laugh as hard as I ever saw her laugh, every time my aunt (her sister) used to tell the story. She was my father’s bridge partner that evening (Normally my mom was my father’s partner. They were both Life Masters in Contract Bridge.) There are some hilarious details I won’t go into here.

  • pauletteb

    Thank you for your intelligent comment . . . so unlike many others who are posting here!

  • Jack

    Do these forms apply to current passport holders or members of Global Entry?

  • BobChi

    Could anyone answer all those questions accurately? I certainly couldn’t, and the people I would need to find to research the answers are mostly deceased. How can this be a legitimate process if nobody can complete it satisfactorily? Lawsuits waiting to happen, I think.

  • James Penrose

    These questions are in more detail than what is asked for a mid-level security clearance in the government.

    I couldn’t answer most of them, my parents have been dead for more than a decade and i doubt *they* would remember all that stuff from that long ago.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wjhamilton29464 William J. Hamilton

    How could I possibly know who was present when I was born, except for whoever signed my birth certificate? I doubt there is any way to know who was in the room when my son was born but me and his mother and the OBGYN. I doubt the hospital still has those records.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Hate to state the obvious, but this is what police state nations do to their citizens…

  • NoggleBaum .

    They are gathering legit names and places and details so other non-americans can and will use in fake histories to run for public office. It will be a step up from Obama’s sham.

  • dcta

    Very interesting – this form sounds a lot like what the “birthers” wanted from Obama!!!

  • crusader2010

    An Iron Curtain has descended across America.

  • hwmcadoo

    All travelers should understand the dire situation of foreign travel. in addition, Americans are so hated from actions of the American government they are targets of the anger. Luckily most other countries are less violent than America.

    I have been warning of coming tyranny for years and I’m afraid I was correct. No longer is it coming-it is here and full blown. Tyranny is a requirement of fascism as the class divide spurs dissent which has to be controlled, hence militarization of police, restriction of speech and limitation of travel and loss of other Bill of Rights protections. All this is of Bush/Obama’s doing which. I think, is part of the plan for world dictatorship.

    I reported on this a year or two ago. there was so much opposition from citizens that it was delayed, but apparently not forgotten. This law certainly fits with other Obama repressive actions in minutely controlling American citizens by restricting freedom of travel of selected (dissenters) applicants.

    Just look at the questions which were chosen to be sure the applicant woulkd not qualify. since the form goes to selected people with the selection method secret it appears to be an unconstitutional form of profiling where, I’m sure, agreement with Obama policies is a major factor.

    Clearly what citizens want no longer is a factor as there was major opposition to this. Democracy is no longer a factor, and all we can do is trust Government to always be correct. There is no security reason for requiring the name of your mother’s doctor or your first employers phone number. The questions are clearly to form a basis for denial.

    In one word this is tyranny with tight control of every detail of citizens lives with restricted freedoms of expression and travel (papers please!)

    Another creative method is to withdraw a person’s passport while they are abroad making them a person without a country, usually having no money or means to make a living. in this situation, unless the “host” country grants political asylum the situation is hopeless eg. Julian Assange who has asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy or Snowden who is living at the Moscow airport. There is some difference as the two examples are sought for alleged crimes. There is no way to know you are on a no-fly list or in line to have your passport cancelled and no way to change it; methods Stalin would have loved.

    Before readers get their panties in a wad disagreeing with my opinions, I began this quest over ten years ago. Things were far from perfect then, but when compared with a pre-2000 baseline our loss of freedom is striking. I respect your opinion of disagreement, but please have some evidence.

  • Carlos Garza

    I gave the statedepartment my Certified long form birth certificate (I was born in a hospital) as well as my drivers license and was sent this DS-5520 form that is actually harder to fill out then my Top Secret security clerence documents from 2004. I am responding by sending back my Social Security card as well as a bunch of other nonsense but I have little hope that I will get my passport. I am effectivly being black balled. I can’t figure out what is motivating the state department to do this to me.

    Can some one tell me what motivates the Department of state in Virginia to just deny my application dispite valid ID and birth certificate? Other then just to be mean?

  • sirwired

    You did use the birth certificate from the Vital Records Office, right? (Some hospitals issue a birth certificate to new parents (or a copy of the initial certificate before it goes off to Vital Records), but it’s more a momento, as it does not have the appropriate government seal on it.)

    If there was a phone number on the form, I would call and ask. A certified birth certificate with embossed seal should have been sufficient. (My actual birth certificate copy is a low-quality Xerox that almost screams “I look like a terrible forger but somehow got a hold of the embosser”, and it was good enough.) Alternatively, nearly every US congressman has a “Constituent Services” office that might be able to assist.

  • Carlos Garza

    My mother is dead so fat chance for me to know much of anything about her.