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Reasons for passport rejection

Updated February 21, 2017

A passport is a must-have for international travellers, allowing access to countries in Africa and Asia and everywhere in between. However, applying for a passport is serious business. Those wanting to traverse the globe with ease need to ensure they abide by various rules and regulations to keep their applications from being rejected or delayed.

Non-Regulation Photos

To allow for easy, quick and accurate identification, strict regulations are applied to passport photos and submitting a picture which fails to abide by the requirements can result in a denial. All photographs must be in colour, feature a full, clear view of the face and be "printed on thin, photo-quality paper," according to the U.S. Department of State. Also, photos must have been taken within the last six months and demonstrate the applicant's current appearance while wearing normal street attire. The photograph cannot feature the applicant wearing a hat or other type of headgear unless it is worn on a daily basis for religious purposes, such as an Islamic hijab; if the garment blocks or obscures the face, the photo, and application, can also be denied.

Criminal Problems

Breaking the law can have many serious repercussions, resulting in the loss of basic rights, including easy access to a passport and international travel. Committing a crime serious enough to be classified as a felony can cause such restrictions, but a minor offence like shoplifting is unlikely to result in problems. However, a passport may denied to those deemed a flight risk, if a judge or other authority believes the applicant may try to flee the country to avoid prison time. According to the Felony Guide website, a passport application may also be rejected if the applicant is believed to present a risk to themselves or others abroad or if the individual has an outstanding warrant against them.

Lack of Citizenship Proof

Just as anyone applying for a passport must provide sufficient proof of their identity, they must also prove that they are a legal American citizen; failing to do so can result in a rejected application. To prove U.S. citizenship, applicants must submit one item on a list of qualifying documents, which includes an old, undamaged passport, a citizenship certificate and a consular report of birth abroad. If the applicant lacks such forms of proof, there are secondary forms which can be submitted, thus preventing the application from being rejected. Those born in the United States can submit "early public records," according to the State Department, which includes family Bible records, a baptism certificate and census records. Those who lack an old passport or birth certificate can file for a "letter of no record" which certifies that a search for the document was performed but came up dry; this can be submitted in conjunction with early public records.

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About the Author

Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.