February 11th, 2008
Before anything else. Here’s a word of advice. Don’t Panic.
I was all ready. Finally After 1 year 4 months and some days… I was going back home. Approximately 15 days before my flight, It had to happen. I sent my passport for a wash with the rest of my laundry, dried it even. Needless to say, It came as quite the shock. I was in a daze for a bit.
A month & a lot of $$’s later and I’m back to square one, I’ll tell you what needs to be done and how.
Locate all your relevant identification documents and make copies of all that are needed when reapplying, If you have a xerox of the original state of the passport, That’ll come in handy.
Locate the nearest consulate. Since I live in Massachusetts, I had to travel to New York. The consulate in New York has jurisdiction over the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virgin Islands.
If its New York for you, Don’t bother trying to call. Its very unlikely you’ll get through to anyone, and if you do you won’t get much out of it.
If you are in school, you have to notify the International Students and Scholars office (ISSO) in your school, They’ll be your best friends for the coming few days / weeks. They’ll inspect your passport and will tell you exactly what your options are.
The Boston University website has a fairly informative section devoted to instructions to follow in case you’ve lost / damaged your passport. Here is the link – you might want to read this, whichever university you are from. Replacing Your I-20, Passport, I-94 or F-1 Visa
If the I-94 number is intact (Not the Date of Entry Stamp but the I-94 Unique ID which is printed on the top left), I wouldn’t recommend the steps mentioned at the BU website for replacing the I-94, Which suggest you pay 320$ and fill the USCIS Form I-102 and mail it to the Dept. Of Homeland Security with all the relevant docs etc. This is an expensive affair and it could take at least 2 months for them to send a replacement. [Update: As of 2013, you will retrieve your I-94 from i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/]
Instead, If you are traveling home anytime soon, or anywhere out of the country, You can still use your valid albeit damaged i-94 as the number is valid. And upon reentry you get a spanking new i-94.
Since I had to apply for my OPT soon, Waiting 2 months was not an option.
You can get directions to the office and a list of all the required docs etc for applying for a new/replacement passport from the Consulate Website. Passports photo rules are clearly not very strict when applying for Indian passports here, just make sure you have enough. The fee for getting a new passport is 125$, They won’t permit you any tatkal service for a lost damaged passport when you apply at the counter (I don’t care what the website states, and evidently neither do the people working at the counters) but you have to present your case.
You should be there well ahead of time, I suggest atleast half hour before the counters open. Pick up a waiting queue slip and be prepared to idle around for a while. A long while. When at the counter, present all the documents that are needed. Have exact change. After that you’ll be stripped of all identity and be handed a little receipt with a telephone number to call in two weeks to inquire about the status of your application. Don’t run away yet, If you need it back urgently, hustle over to Information (counter 7) and ask for an appointment, you’ll be handed a form and if you’ve been lucky and are able to hand in this form before 11 am. You should be alloted an interview slot soon. Or atleast after the lunch break :1:00-1:45. When called for the interview have any documents that will expedite the process, handy, If you have a flight to catch, have your ticket ready. If all goes well, you should be asked to collect your passport Friday at 4:30.
Take a deep breath.
Note: I’ll keep updating, adding to this post as I find the time. You probably want to book mark this page.