First published on the Isaac Brock Society on April 12, 2012
Hello Isaac? It’s me, Ladyhawk. Is there anyone here who still has US citizenship? Well, anyway, in case anyone is interested in how things are going for people like me who are still trying to make the dual thing work, I thought I’d tell you what happened today when I went to the US Consulate in Toronto to renew my US Passport.
I’ve been in Canada since 1969, took out Canadian citizenship in 2003, and have no plans to renounce or relinquish my US citizenship. I got my first US passport in 1986 and renewed it in 1996. I had to go to the US Consulate in Toronto both times because that’s the way it was done then. Not a big deal since I live about an hour’s drive away. Since then it has become possible to renew passports by mail, unless your passport has expired and it has been more than 15 years since you last renewed. That was the case for me, so I had to appear in person to renew. My appointment was for today.
Things have changed. The US Consulate in Toronto is still in the same building, but the big wide welcoming doors at the front on University Avenue are closed, and entry to the building is now at the back, through a smaller door where security is simpler. You don’t get into the building unless you have an appointment, and most people who go are there to get a travel visa for the US. Since I was there for a passport, I was escorted past the lines, through a security checkpoint similar to airport security, and up the stairs to the upper floors by a relay of security guards who kept each other informed about who was coming and going. It was swift and efficient.
At the first window, an agent checked and collected my documents (appointment letter, expired passport, application for renewal, passport photo, and self-addressed Express Post envelope). Then I was sent to the next window where I paid the fee, and from there I went into the waiting room. It was open and uncrowded, with a TV screen on the wall tuned to the CBC news. The resident security guard politely asked if any of us had any questions he could answer while we waited. Within 15 minutes I was called to another window.
Here the agent asked me some questions confirming the information on my application. He noted my birthplace in Minnesota and asked if I had grown up there. I said yes, and he smiled and said he was from Wisconsin, so we were practically neighbours. I smiled back and we chatted a bit about life in the Midwest. He noted my travel plans for the summer and assured me I would have my new passport within two weeks, in plenty of time for my next trip outside of Canada. He asked in a very friendly way about why I had waited more than five years after my passport expired to renew it, and I confessed that I had been very busy with work and family concerns, and had simply not gotten around to it. He did not ask if I had dual citizenship. He did not ask any questions about taxes. I was back on the street in less than 45 minutes.
Since everything was in order, I should have my new passport within a fortnight. The only doubt I have is to wonder whether my information will be checked against my tax status, although I did file taxes for 2010. No one at the consulate said anything about that. If I receive anything from the IRS requesting more tax information before my passport is issued, I will report it here.