INFORMATION REQUEST LETTERS and information notices

(CT:CON-732;   09-21-2017)
(Office of Origin:  CA/PPT/S/A)


(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. The purpose of this Appendix is to provide guidance regarding the use of Information Request Letters (IRLs) and Information Notices (INs).

b. IRLs are standardized letters that request from the applicant additional information, documentation, or action needed to process the passport application.  You must adjudicate the application to the extent possible prior to suspending to ensure that you are addressing all issues.  The IRLs have been carefully crafted to communicate clearly and accurately statutory, regulatory, and other requirements of the Department.  Consequently, no changes or alterations to the IRLs may be made unilaterally at passport agencies/centers without the approval of the Office of Adjudication (CA/PPT/S/A) except on a case-by-case basis with the approval of passport agency/center management in extenuating circumstances, e.g., when you request that the applicant submit a birth certificate instead of a notification of birth registration, and the applicant insists that the notification of birth registration is her/his birth certificate.

NOTE:  IRLs are not adjudicative guidance.  The passport application must be adjudicated in accordance with the 7 FAM, and then the appropriate IRL selected to address any deficiencies with the passport application.

c.  INs are standardized notices that provide passport bearers with information about their passports.  For example, an IN may be included to explain why the passport was limited in validity, and/or what documentation is needed to obtain a fully valid passport.  The INs have been carefully crafted to communicate this information clearly and accurately.  Consequently, no changes or alterations to the INs may be made unilaterally at passport agencies/centers without the approval of CA/PPT/S/A except in extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis with the approval of passport agency/center management, e.g., when using an endorsement 46 to limit a passport for a special problem.  INs do not require a response from the applicant and do not need to be personalized with the applicant's name and address.

d. U.S. Embassies and Consulates (posts):  The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) has included specific exhibits in 7 FAM 1360 for use by posts in communicating with passport applicants.  Consular officers may submit suggestions for changes to the 7 FAM 1360 exhibits to Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Legal Affairs (CA/OCS/L) at Ask-OCS-L@state.gov, as well as seek guidance regarding tailoring a letter to the facts of a particular case.  Posts may also consult Passport Services’ IRL Index and IN Index when tailoring correspondence to a situation not addressed in the 7 FAM 1360 exhibits.

7 FAM 1320 Appendix T  Building an IRL or IN

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. The IRL Index categorizes relevant language by topic using series and number codes.  For passport agencies and centers, these codes are used in the Letter to Applicant module in the Travel Document Issuance System (TDIS) to generate the IRL.

(1)  The Letter to Applicant module automatically inserts the Passport Agency/Center letterhead.

(2)  The drafter identifies the requested IRL series, then selects the series opening, letter/body, and closing code(s) or ending for the opening, body, and closing of the IRL text.

NOTE: Some IRLs are “Whole Letters” which do not require the drafter to build the IRL.

(3)  If multiple issues are addressed in a single IRL, appropriate conjunction codes, e.g., “AND” must be used to resolve multiple issues within the same IRL series.  If the multiple issues being addressed require using more than one IRL series, TDIS allows you to use the suffix -77 to join the first IRL series before inclusion of the next IRL series.

(4)  The IRL is closed using the “END” code, which provides contact information and regulatory information regarding IRLs.

(5)  If the IRL requires an attachment (see the IRL Comprehensive Index), the “ENCL” code is used, followed by the code for the attachment.

b. The IN Index identifies relevant language by number.  INs may be printed in the TDIS Letter to Applicant module, attached to an appropriate IRL, or printed from the IN Index.

7 FAM 1330 Appendix T  SIGNATURES ON IRL LETTERS or other correspondence

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. General Correspondence with Passport Applicants:

(1)  Passport agencies and centers must follow the procedures outlined in 7 FAM 1320 Appendix T to ensure that correspondence contains the proper signature blocks and that all correspondence is prepared, reviewed, and signed at the proper level.

(a)  Applications that are denied because the applicant is not a U.S. citizen/non-citizen U.S. national must be prepared in accordance with 7 FAM 1381.2 (these IRLs do not include those being denied for insufficient evidence of citizenship).

(b)  All other IRLs must use the appropriate Program Manager's signature block, as appropriate.

(2)  Passport Services (CA/PPT) and Overseas Citizens Services (CA/OCS) in Washington, D.C. have standard procedures to ensure that all correspondence contains the proper signature blocks and that all correspondence is prepared, reviewed, and signed at the proper level.

(a)  Letters regarding denial of passport services prepared by the Office of Legal Affairs and Law Enforcement, Legal Affairs Division (CA/PPT/S/L/LA) must be cleared by a Branch Chief or Division Chief, and may be signed by the office rather than the specific official. Revocation letters and letters canceling a Consular Report of Birth Abroad must be cleared by the Office Director, and may be signed by the office rather than the specific official.

(b)  Letters regarding loss of citizenship issues prepared by CA/OCS/L must be signed by the CA/OCS/L Office Director.

b. Congressional, White House and Other Special Correspondence:

(1)  CA/PPT and CA/OCS in Washington, DC have standard procedures regarding preparation, clearance and signature of Congressional, White House, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and other special correspondence.  (See the Customer Service Manager’s Guide.)

(2)  Posts have similar standard procedures regarding the Congressional, White House, OIG, and other special correspondence.

7 FAM 1340 Appendix T  new, corrected, deleted, and Archived IRLs and INs

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. Passport agency/center staff may request, through management, the addition, deletion, or correction of an IN or an IRL and/or its attachments by submitting changes to CA/PPT/S/A for review at AskPPTAdjudication@state.gov.

b. The Office of Technical Operations (CA/PPT/S/TO) will upload all changes into TDIS.

c.  CA/PPT/S/A will post new and corrected IRLs and INs to Passport Services’ IRL Index and IN Index and notify the agencies and headquarters offices when the indices have been updated.

d. Passport Agency and Center management must ensure that all employees are notified of the changes.

e. Previous versions of IRLs and INs are retained in the Archive Index.

7 FAM 1350 Appendix T  Retention of IRLs and INs

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. Per 5 FAM 422.2 and 5 FAM 431.4, IRLs must be retained with the passport case files, in accordance with the Bureau of Record Management’s Records Disposition Schedules (see also 7 FAM 1347).

(1)  Only a single copy of the signed and dated IRL should be attached.

(2)  The copy of the IRL returned by the applicant should be attached, if available and in acceptable condition.  Otherwise, the file copy must be attached.

b. INs do not need to be retained with the passport case files (see also 7 FAM 1345.3-8).

7 FAM 1360 Appendix T  Electronic IRLs

(CT:CON-732;   09-21-2017)

a. Passport agencies and c(enters send certain electronic IRLs (e-IRLs) concurrently with paper IRLs to applicants who have provided a valid e-mail address.  E-IRLs provide faster notification to courier companies and applicants about issues with the passport application.  Posts may use e-IRLs in conjunction with additional guidance provided in 7 FAM 1367.

b. Not all IRLs can be sent via e-mail.

(1)  IRLs are excluded from the e-IRL process if:

(a)  It contains law enforcement information or personally identifiable information (except for the applicant's mailing address and name or the name of the applicant's parent/legal guardian);

(b)  The suspension and/or denial is because the applicant has been certified by IRS as having a seriously delinquent tax debt (see 26 U.S.C. 7345 and 22 CFR 51.60(a)(3)).

(c)  It is a passport application denial that requires the director's signature (see 7 FAM 1330 Appendix T); or

(d)  The IRL requires the applicant to re-execute the application or submit certain types of documentation.

(2)  Specifically, the following IRL series are excluded from the e-IRL program: 695, 696, 698, 701, 712, 713, 714, 715, 722, 955, 975, 982, 1000, 1001, 1014, 1016, 1019, 1032, 1070, 1090, 1091, and 1095.  Consequently, these applicants must be sent IRLs.

c.  E-IRLs are composed following the procedures in 7 FAM 1320 Appendix T.  The e-IRL will be generated using the "E-mail as PDF attachment" feature in Microsoft Word to generate an e-mail with the PDF attached.  If other attachments are to be sent in the e-mail, save them as individual PDF files and insert them into the e-mail.

d. Ensure that the standard language auto-populates within the body of the e-mail.  This e-mail can be sent as an "Official - Privacy/PII" document.

(1)  Enter the applicant's e-mail address into the "To" line of the e-mail.

(2)  Enter the passport agency/center general e-mail address in the "BCC" line.

NOTE:  You must ensure that the typist's name and e-mail address are not revealed to the applicant.  The "From" line must indicate the shared mailbox e-mail address.

e. Enter the applicant's name and application number in the subject line.  For passport applications accepted at the public counter or through a registered courier, include the delivery type or pick-up date.

f.  Verify the applicant's name and address and send the e-mail. This e-mail can be sent as an "Official - Privacy/PII" document.  After sending the e-mail, create a comment in TDIS to reflect "Sent e-IRL (date)."

NOTE:  It is unnecessary to provide your name, date, and time in the comments field because the date, time, and employee number are automatically generated.

g. If the e-mail is undeliverable, update the comment field in TDIS to reflect "e-IRL undeliverable."  Undeliverable e-IRLs should be purged after 24 hours.

h. Print two copies of the e-IRL.  Attach one to the passport application and mail the second IRL.

i.  Archiving sent e-IRLs:

(1)  Archive folders must be created to store all electronic communications.  The folder should be titled with the date(s) covered.

(2)  At the end of each day, all sent e-IRLs must be removed from the "Sent Mail" folder and moved to the archive folder.

7 FAM 1361 Appendix T  E-IRLs for Courier Companies

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. Each agency that accepts applications from courier companies should have a dedicated e-mail box for sending e-IRLs to courier companies in the following format: Agency/CenterCourierEIRLs@state.gov.  The shared mailbox must not accept replies from customers/companies and must have the courier e-mail template as the signature.  Courier companies must use a separate inquiries mailbox.

b. For courier passport applications, passport agencies/centers must print a paper IRL to give to the courier employee instead of a passport during pick-up.

c.  The same staff that drafts IRLs for courier companies also composes e-IRLs for courier companies.

d. E-IRLs must only be sent to a courier company if the customer has expressly indicated in the Letter of Authorization that the passport agency/center may discuss the passport application with the courier.

e. The e-IRL composition process is identical except that:

(1)  The courier company's e-mail address is entered into the "To" line of the e-mail instead of the applicant's name;

(2)  If available, the applicant's e-mail address is entered in the "CC" line of the e-mail;

(3)  The courier company's name is entered in the subject line as well as the applicant's name; and

(4)  In addition to verifying the applicant's e-mail address (if available) you must verify the courier company's name and address.

f.  Posts may apply this guidance with the ACS Courier Passback program outlined in 7 FAM 1362.

7 FAM 1362 Appendix T  E-IRLs for Special Issuance Passports

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. For special issuance passports (official, diplomatic, service, and no-fee regular), it is standard practice to contact the Federal/Military acceptance agent or post when an application is suspended pending additional information (e-IRLs pertaining to holds or for privacy reasons are sent directly to the applicant).  Special issuance passports are requested on behalf of the employing agency, not the applicant.  (See also 7 FAM 1352 Appendix J regarding release of information to Federal/Military acceptance agents.)

EXCEPTION: Because an International Megan's Law (IML) hold does not  preclude issuance of a no-fee regular passport, if an IML hit is confirmed for a special issuance passport application, the e-IRL will be sent, as appropriate, to the authorizing official, acceptance agent, applicant, etc., advising them of the situation with a  copy sent to Diplomatic Security.

b. Federal and Department of Defense (DoD) acceptance agents are notified via e-IRL regarding employees of the agency or DoD or an employee's eligible family member.

c.  E-IRLs for special issuance passports at the Charleston Passport Center and the Honolulu Passport Agency are sent following standard procedures (see 7 FAM 1360 Appendix T), except that both copies of the IRL are attached to the passport application.  In the top right corner of the first IRL, write the last and first name of the applicant and the date the e-mail was sent.  The second copy of the IRL may be used if the applicant does not respond in a timely manner and the passport application is not issued.

d. E-IRLs at the Special Issuance Agency (CA/PPT/SIA) are sent in accordance with 7 FAM 1363 Appendix T.

7 FAM 1363 Appendix T  Special Issuance Agency e-IRLs

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. In addition to sending e-IRLs for special issuance passports, the CA/PPT/SIA also sends e-IRLs to:

(1)  Congressional Offices that have submitted letters of authorization for constituents to submit applications at CA/PPT/SIA;

(2)  Consular Officers or American Citizen Services sections for applications received from posts; or

(3)  As a last resort, the applicant.

b. Instead of the standard procedures for generating and sending e-IRLs, passport specialists at CA/PPT/SIA use e-mail templates based on the IRLs.  Generally, e-IRLs are sent from CA-PPT-SIA-Passports@state.gov.

c.  Most commonly used e-IRLs are located in CA/PPT/SIA's shared folder.  E-IRLs are labeled using the same number/naming system as IRLs.

d. When suspending a passport application, the passport specialist at CA/PPT/SIA selects the proper e-IRL by opening the template and dismissing the shared-directory pop-up.

e. All e-mails are sent using CA-PPT-SIA-PASSPORTS@state.gov.

NOTE:  CA/PPT/SIA's e-mail addresses auto-populate in the "CC" line when the e-IRL is opened.

f.  Enter the point of contact's e-mail address in the "To" line.  This is normally listed as the military acceptance agent, the point of contact on the letter of authorization, or the designated agency representative, but may be the applicant.  For overseas cases with no post contact information, the point of contact may be obtained through American Citizen Services, which is located in the Consular Consolidated Database, the Embassy Key Officer Listing, or visit Overseas Citizens Services Who's Who page on the CAWeb.

g. Complete the subject line as follows:

(1)  For "(DOTS Code)," enter the correct DOTS Code of the employing agency in the parentheses.

(2)  For "(Name)," enter the applicant's last name in the parentheses.

h. To format the body of the e-IRL:

(1)  After "REF:" enter the applicant's last and first name (last, first).

(2)  For "APP #:" enter the passport application number.

(3)  Certain e-IRLs will ask you to select the reason for the e-IRL and delete other information that does not apply.

NOTE:  The IRLs pertaining to photographs have been consolidated into a single e-IRL.

(4)  Certain e-IRLs will ask you to add the appropriate type of passport, the passport number, the issuance date, etc.  When adding information, or selecting from an option of different information, you must review the final text and remove any brackets "[]" for internal use only.

(5)  In the ending of the e-IRL, you must select your e-mail signature with your employee identification number.

i.  Review the text and formatting of the e-IRL to ensure correctness and send.

NOTE:  After clicking send, the e-IRL will appear in your "Sent Items" folder.  It will not appear in the "Sent Items" folder for the e-mail collective.

j.  Print two copies of the e-IRL and attach both to the passport application.  In the top right corner of the first printed e-IRL, write the last and first name of the applicant and the date the e-mail was sent.  The second copy of the e-IRL may be used if the applicant does not respond in a timely manner and the passport application is not issued.

k. Updating TDIS:

(1)  Once you have sent the e-IRL, you must enter a comment in TDIS to explain why the application was suspended.  Provide the correct IRL code or add a brief but clear comment detailing the person(s) contacted, the method of contact, the reason for suspense and the documents required for issuance (e.g., "e-IRL sent to [name of agency POC] requesting new photograph - same photograph from 6/2011).

NOTE:  It is unnecessary to provide your name, date, and time in the comments field because the date, time, and employee number are automatically generated.

(2)  Other agencies and outside organizations have TDIS inquiry access so comments must be clear and professional.

7 FAM 1370 Appendix T  Questions

(CT:CON-713;   06-23-2017)

a. All questions from passport agencies/centers regarding IRLs or INs should be directed to CA/PPT/S/A at AskPPTAdjudication@state.gov.

b. Posts should contact their country officer and CA/OCS/L at Ask-OCS-L@state.gov, who will confer with CA/PPT/S/A as necessary.

c.  For systems issues with e-IRLs, contact the local systems administrator who will contact CA Systems if necessary.

7 FAM 1380 Appendix T through 1390 APPENDIX T  UNASSIGNED