Go have a look at the form, and marvel at the complexity of questions it expects you to be able to answer (and roll your eyes at their time estimate that it will take only 45 minutes to do so).
Being issued a US passport is a right, not a privilege. It is appropriate for the State Department to ensure we are a bona fide US citizen, and that can be determined unambiguously from viewing our birth certificate or certificate of naturalization. But having confirmed our citizenship status, they are obliged to issue us a passport (there are various authorities to support this claim – see this submission to the State Department protesting against this new form). Requiring us to answer this form as a precondition of being given the passport we are entitled to is an abuse of their limited authority, and the questions they ask of us has no bearing on establishing our entitlement to US citizenship and therefore a passport.
If you're as appalled by the questions on this form as I am, you are welcome to urgently send in your own submission – you can do so by email, but must do so by Monday. Details here.
Please repost/retweet/forward this message on to others.
My own submission was more modest, and is copied, below.
Dear Ms Garcia
I write to offer comments regarding DS-5513, Biographical Questionnaire for US Passport, 1405-XXXX.
1. My name is David Rowell. I am a naturalized US citizen, originally from New Zealand. I reside in Redmond, WA and hold a US passport.
2. I am a travel writer and commentator, and since 2001 have been publisher of ‘The Travel Insider’, a website, weekly newsletter and blog focused on travel and travel related technology. Over a quarter million different people visit my website every month. The profile of my readers shows them to be skewed significantly towards upper income, graduate/post graduate education, and senior management positions or retired, and they travel both domestically and internationally multiple times each year.
3. I make these comments based on personal experience and my general sense of my readers expectations and views, garnered over ten years of interactions with them.
4. The information that is proposed to be requested of intending US passport holders is extraordinarily onerous and without precedent in any other western country.
5. Establishing one’s US citizenship status is an extremely simple process and in no way requires the information requested in this new proposed form. A copy of one’s birth certificate or a copy of one’s naturalization certificate is all that is required.
6. The complete employment and residence history of the applicant is irrelevant to the granting of a US passport, as is biographical data about one’s family members. Is the State Department implying that people who have lived in ‘bad’ cities or who have had ‘unacceptable’ employment histories will now be refused passports? In what way will their decision be influenced by details about family members?
7. Suggesting that it would take only 45 minutes to complete this form is risible in the extreme. Some of the data is simply impossible to secure – how can one accurately establish addresses of past residences that might be dating back 20, 40, or even 60 or more years in the past? How can one provide details of employment at companies that have long since gone out of business, and even if this was possible, for what purpose must one provide this information complete with contact numbers for named supervisors?
8. Even information on one’s family can be difficult to accurately provide. If one’s parents are deceased, there may not be an easy way to find answers to some of these questions – and in any case, one again is left with no answer to the question ‘Why is this information required?’.
9. It is also unclear why one needs to provide one’s social security number when applying for a passport.
10. In closing, I note with wry humor that the information required to obtain a US passport appears to be much greater than the information required to establish eligibility to run for the office of President.
Thank you for considering these comments
David M Rowell
17321 NE 31st Ct
Redmond WA 98052