Category: Visa

REAL ID Act Compliance Deadline Extended to 2019 [UPDATED]

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that the REAL ID Act’s implementation will be delayed until January 22, 2018. This Act sets enhanced requirements. Requirements that you must meet before obtaining a driver’s license or other state identification card.

The change primarily affects travelers from states that have not yet implement the Act. Anyone not in compliance will be a bar from using their driver’s licenses to pass through TSA checkpoints. This can be as early as this summer. If enforcement were to forward, travelers are must use passports or other forms of federal identification for domestic flights and enter other federal facilities.

REAL ID Act Extension States

Non-Compliant2019 Extensions
MassachusettsJanuary 10, 2019*
MinnesotaMarch 01, 2019
CaliforniaJanuary 10, 2019*
GuamJanuary 10, 2019*
VirginiaJanuary 10, 2019*
MinnesotaMarch 01, 2019
U.S. Virgin IslandsApril 01, 2019
Rhode IslandMay 01, 2019
AlaskaJune 01, 2019
MontanaJune 01, 2019
IllinoisJune 01, 2019
KentuckyAugust 01, 2019
Missouri August 01, 2019
Pennsylvania August 01, 2019
American SamoaOctober 10, 2019
New JerseyOctober 10, 2019
MaineOctober 10, 2019
OklahomaOctober 10, 2019
OregonOctober 10, 2019

What Does the REAL ID Act Change?

The REAL ID Act sets enhanced standards for the issuance and production of government identification cards including state driver’s license. To be in compliance, states must take additional steps when verifying a recipient’s identity before they can get an identification card. Additionally, each identification card must contain advanced security features, such as holograms, to deter counterfeiting. In addition, a magnetic strip will contain information on the identification card and allow it to be machine-readable.

Who Does the REAL ID Act Affect?

The REAL ID Act is a federal law affecting federal facilities. When enforcement begins, a compliant ID is necessary to enter any federal facility that requires ID including TSA checkpoints, federal prisons, military bases, and other secure facilities. The REAL ID Act does not affect State facilities; however, states may impose similar restrictions on their own.

What if a State Doesn’t Comply With the REAL ID Act?

States are under no obligation to produce identification cards that comply with the REAL ID Act. The standards are only guidelines for what types of IDs are going to be valid in federal facilities.

Starting on January 22, 2018, travelers whose states do not follow REAL ID Act standards or who possess identification cards issued before their state was in compliance will need to produce a secondary form of identification in order to fly.

Starting on October 1, 2020, only identification cards that comply with the REAL ID Act will be acceptable. Residents of states who are not compliant with the Act and those who still possess older, non-compliant IDs will need to present a passport or other acceptable form of federal identification, or they can not travel.

How to Get a Passport and a Chinese Visa

One of the most important things that you need to remember to do well in advance of any traveling that you plan on doing outside of the United States is to make sure that your passport and your visa are in order. These documents will be the key to your entry into the foreign destination that you plan on traveling to. If you are getting a passport and a Chinese visa, you have a few key options to explore.

Getting a Passport

Depending on where you are in the US. Your best option for getting your passport quickly and efficiently may be to visit your local post office. You can apply for a new passport at any post office in your area. The only consideration that you have to make is that this will also be the option that requires the most amount of processing time. Which may not be ideal if you’re visiting sooner rather than later.

Another option that you have involves visiting a regional passport agency. This method is much faster than going to a post office. But, it still may cause a delay in your trip if you’re only a few weeks away from stepping onto your flight.

If time is of the absolute essence and your trip to China is just over the horizon, you will want to look into expedited passport services. These companies operate in all major jurisdictions throughout the US. They will quickly obtain all relevant paperwork for your passport application. Transport it all to the appropriate location, make sure that everything is processed quickly. Hence, will have your passport so that you can get on a flight to China without any issue.

 Applying for a  Chinese Visa

If you need a visa for your trip to China, you’ll want to apply directly with the Chinese embassy. You can get the relevant forms at a Chinese embassy in your are. As well as on the Internet. If you’re filling out the forms via digital documents that you obtain on the embassy website. Keep in mind that you’ll have to fill out a different type of form depending on what visa you’re applying for. Nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visa applications are two different things, our Chinese visa section has an entire “how to” on getting the correct Chinese visa. Another option in getting a visa is hiring the help of a Chinese visa expediting company.

Once your forms are filled out, you can provide those documents to the relevant individual at the Department of State office for processing. Normal processing for visa applications for trips to China are only a few weeks. So, don’t delay if the rest of your travel plans are already firm.

A U.S. Citizen’s Guide to Soccer World Cup 2014 in Brazil

2014 World Cup fever is in full stride. This year’s world cup takes place in Brazil from June 12 through July 13, 2014. Whether you’re cheering on your home country or love to root for one of the many other nations competing for the cup. There’s nothing quite like watching the action from the stadium and being part of the World Cup crowd.

Joining the Crowd to Watch World Cup 2014 in Brazil

Getting to Brazil can be problematic if you don’t have the right documentation. In order to visit Brazil, U.S. citizens need two important items.

  1. A U.S. Passport
  2. A Brazilian Visa

First, you must have a U.S. Passport. You cannot get into Brazil without one, nor can you return to the U.S. without one. It’s a piece of documentation that serves as proof of citizenship for the U.S. and Brazilian authorities.

Second, you must also have a visa in order to gain entrance into Brazil. A Brazilian visa offers temporary authorization to visit the country. The visa comes in the form of a stamp or sticker on the passport. Much like what some states offer as DMV endorsements for motorcycle drivers.

Getting the Documentation

There are essentially three ways U.S. citizens can obtain a U.S. passport. Each of these methods presents its own strengths and weaknesses.

U.S. Post Offices

Many community post offices offer passport services. Check online to find the nearest post office that offers passport services and apply early. Try to do it months in advance of your planned trip, if your intention is to get a passport from the post office.

The U.S. Department of State recommends applying a minimum of four to six weeks ahead of the planned trip. However, for major events such as World Cup Soccer or Olympic Games, it is wise to plan even further ahead if possible.

Expedited passport services are available from the post office, for an additional fee. Expedited passport services generally shave about half the time off your wait. Delivery is approximately two to three weeks instead of four to six.

Travel visas, on the other hand, require anywhere between 2 and 30 days and are not issues by the U.S. Postal Service.

Regional Agencies

Regional Passport agencies are often necessary for people traveling out the country with little notice (two weeks or less). Also, these agencies require appointments and an additional expediting fee. You’ll also need to include evidence of your travel plans (copies of tickets, etc.) with your paperwork. Don’t forget to use express delivery options. Also, pay the additional expedited service and overnight delivery fees in order to get the documentation on time.

Private Passport Expediting Services

For most travelers facing a significant time element, the World Cup lasts only a month. This is often the best time to visit Brazil and have some fun. You have someone else in charge of getting you all the travel documentation you need in order to travel to Brazil, enter the country, and return home, to the U.S., afterwards.

There is an additional fee above the normal passport and expediting fee. However, there is a certain peace of mind in knowing that someone else is dealing with the details of obtaining your passport and the necessary Brazilian visa for you.

If you choose the right passport expediting company, you’ll discover that you may also have the documents hand-delivered to you at the airport if necessary in order to accommodate your travel needs.

All that’s left is to find your way around Brazil and enjoy the games. Consider making copies of all passports, visas, credit cards, etc. and leaving them, along with any other cash you don’t need when leaving your room in the hotel safe. Additionally, you might be interested in obtaining a International Driver’s License so you can rent a car and drive around during your stay. Don’t forget to learn a few key Portuguese phrases so you can get directions during your visit.

Other than that, be prepared to cheer on your favorite team with gusto. Wear your fan gear with pride and have an amazing experience unlike any other.

Should You Opt for Visa Service When Traveling to China?

There are many questions concerning Chinese visas for US citizens. One of them is whether or not an American needs a visa to enter the mentioned country. With the new rules in Chinese visas as implemented by the government of the People’s Republic of China, US citizens do not need a visa if they will stay in the country for a maximum of 72 hours. If you intend to visit China for several days or months, you definitely need a visa to enter the country.

One you know which type of visa you need to apply for, you can go to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country. However, there are times when these agencies are too far from where you live. It may also be that you do not have enough time to allocate for the visa application. These things normally happen especially if you have a ton of things to do at work. You surely do not want to miss the opportunity to visit China. One way that will allow you to go to the country with a visa is with the help of a visa service.

Benefits of Visa Service

1. Less Paperwork. When you apply for a visa, you certainly need to fill out an application form. This is of course necessary even if you choose a visa service. However, contacting this type of firm will allow you to minimize the amount of paperwork you have to care of. They will help you prepare the documents that you have supplied them with and then you can proceed with your daily routine while waiting for the visa processing to be complete.

2. No Long Lines. Many people travel to China. When you visit the embassy or consulate in your country, prepare to wait. This is not an option for individuals who lead busy lives. Thankfully, a visa service will do all the work for you so you do not have to leave your house and deal with long lines of applicants.

3. Quicker Processing. Getting a visa to China can take days for the processing visa. You have to wait for days in order to receive the visa into your mailbox. With a visa service agency, the entire process is expedited. Weeks of waiting can will turn to simply a day or two. If you need your visa right away, this is not a problem because the agency will help you get it in a matter of hours.

With the benefits above, you probably want to hire a company to help expedite your visa application process. However, it is important that you know there are a few caveats with this option. The most obvious is money.  Prepared to pay extra cash to the agency. Depending on your visa requirement, it may be very expensive. This is true if you want to get your visa in a matter of hours.

This does not mean that you cannot find a trustworthy China visa company to help you with the application. In fact, you can have your visa application expedited without paying large cash. We can assist you with the whole process so that your visa application gets approve. We will check on your paperwork to see if you have filled it out correctly. If there are any problems, we will contact you so that the errors will be corrected.

After everything has been checked, we will send the papers to the proper authorities. Your documents will be sent back to you and of course, you get your Chinese visa as well.

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Six Month Passport Validity Rule – 6 Month Validity Rule for Visitors Explained

What is the six-month passport validity rule? When traveling overseas, most people know that a valid United States passport is required to enter an international destination. But, what is unknown to the traveler is that some countries would need to have enough six-month validity on your passport to travel to the country which is known as the six months validity passport rule for visitors.  Therefore, if your passport would expire within the next six months or some cases 3 months, some countries would refuse to give you entry into the country.

Hence, this rule is in place so that if the un-expecting visitor needs to stay for a period up to six months, his/her passport would be valid to leave the country.

What is the Six Month Passport Validity Rule?

The Six Month Validity Rule is imposed by foreign countries and not by the United States of America. It merely means that your passport should be valid for more than six months before you would be allowed to enter a foreign country that imposes the six-month rule. This rule is imposed by some of the countries we have listed below. This rule is prevalent in the Asian continent such as China and Hong Kong.

Countries That Enforce the Six Month Passport Rule

The six-month rule is enforced by countries outside the US and not the US. So, be aware when you plan to visit another country and know the rules when entering or leaving.

Central America

In Central America, almost all the countries enforce the six-month validity rule except one. They are: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua enforce the law. Panama and Honduras are the only two countries that impose a three-month validity rule.

Caribbean

Most countries in the Caribbean require you to have a passport with at least six months validity. The ones that do not are US Territories like US Virgin Island and Puerto Rico or The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. The ones that do require are Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

South America

There are a handful of countries in South American that implemented the Six-Month Rule. They are Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. The others Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, require visitors to have a valid passport when entering.

Europe

In Europe, the rule was signed by a group of countries, and it is known as the Schengen Treaty. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Schengen Treaty refers to a 3+3 rule where the passport must have a three-month validity and maximum stay time is three months. So, together the passport must have a minimum of six months validity to enter and stay in the country.

Africa

In Africa, some countries do apply the six-month rule while others require only a valid passport. Here is the list of countries that use the rule: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Middle East

Most Middle Eastern nations apply the six-month rule. These are Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Gaza Strip, and Yemen.

Asia and India

Asian countries implement the six-month validity rule except for Hong Kong and Macau that use one-month validity. Russia and India also use the six-month rule.

South Pacific

All the countries in South Pacific, except the US Territories and New Zealand, require the six-month validity rule. New Zealand uses one-month validity for departure. The South Pacific countries that use the law are French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Expedite Passport Renewal

If your passport is about to expire, one recommendation is that you renew your passport nine (9) month before your passport expires. So, this would give you enough time to apply for a U.S. passport with the passport office.

For expedited passport renewal which is if you are traveling within fourteen (14) days or thirty (30) days and if a visa is required, then you have to fill out the Application Form DS-82 and apply at a regional passport agency.

The post offices are not recommended in this situation. As the turnaround time to expedite a passport renewal at the post offices is two (2) to four (4) weeks. Hence, you have two option to expedite your passport. The recommended option is by visiting a passport agency in your area. The other option would be a private expediting company. But, these companies charges for their services which can range from $79 to $399.00.

Overall

Even though many countries implemented the six-month validity rule, there are other restrictions enforced to enter these countries. Some require a passport to have one clean page per stamp or at least one available sheet. Also, a visa is a requirement to enter some countries. Be aware of this significant document because without it, when it is required, you will not be allowed to board your flight or enter the country you plan to visit.

It is best and wise to have a passport with plenty of validity before travel. Also, it is necessary to know some laws of the country you plan to visit to avoid any mishaps or know what to do when you are there.