Fair gives opportunity to obtain passports

After a relaxing Spring Break in Bermuda, you’re ready to hop back on the plane before school starts again. Just one problem … you can’t board the plane.Due to a new travel regulation, people re-entering the United States by air are required to present proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a passport.

To help students, faculty and staff prepare for this change, Mailing Services and the Brown-Lupton Student Center are hosting a passport fair Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Center Lounge, said Glen Hulme, post office manager.

Local post offices have held similar passport fairs on Saturdays throughout January and February.

Hulme contacted Kelly Pinto, Fort Worth customer relations coordinator, and Larry Markley, Student Center director, about hosting the fair on campus.

“I thought it was a great idea, especially with the new regulations about traveling to Mexico,” Markley said. “It’s just safer to have a passport.”

Starting Jan. 23, persons entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda must present a passport or other proof of citizenship, according to the departments of State and Homeland Security’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Some students have already seen this initiative in action. Yaseen Ulla, a junior finance major, encountered problems on a trip to Canada.

“They wouldn’t let me cross the border into the U.S. until I could prove I was a citizen,” Ulla said.

At the passport fair, applicants can have their photograph taken, pay passport and execution fees and submit an application, Hulme said. Applicants can use a check or money order to pay the $67 passport fee, the $30 execution fee and the $15 photograph fee. Two identical 2 inch by 2 inch photographs can be used instead of taking a photograph at the fair.

Applicants must bring proof of citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate, previous passport or naturalization certificate, and a current driver’s license or state identification card.

The actual application process should take no more than 15 minutes, Pinto said. Passports will be mailed to students within eight weeks. Students concerned about time limitations can also pay $60 to receive their passport within two weeks, or $28.80 to send the application through express mail.

“We realize that a lot of students will want to make trips to Mexico over Spring Break or study abroad over the summer,” Pinto said. “Now is the perfect time to get it, before Spring Break and the summer rush.