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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: September 17, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 179)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 47726-47727]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr17se09-5]                         

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

22 CFR Parts 22 and 51

[Public Notice 6650]
RIN 1400-AC39

 
Passport Procedures--Amendment to Expedited Passport Processing 
Regulation

AGENCY: Bureau of Consular Affairs, State Department.

ACTION: Final Rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This rule revises the expedited passport process and changes 
the definition of expedited passport processing from three business 
days, beginning when the application arrives at a passport agency or 
when the request for expedited processing is approved, to the number of 
business days published on the Department's Web site at http://
www.travel.state.gov. This change ensures that the Department can 
continue to offer this service consistent with its regulations while 
maintaining sufficient flexibility to adapt to fluctuations in passport 
demand. It also ensures that the public can easily determine the 
current standards for expedited passport processing.

DATES: September 17, 2009.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information 
should be directed to Susan M. Bozinko, Bureau of Consular Affairs, 
Passport Services, Division of Legal Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 
Washington, DC 20037 or e-mailed at BozinkoSM@state.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department published an interim final 
rule, Public Notice 5888, Vol. 72 Federal Register No. 158, amending 
Parts 22 and 51 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations, along 
with a request for comments. The interim final rule was implemented to 
change the definition of expedited passport processing. The 
Department's reasons for implementing the change were discussed in 
detail in the interim final rule. This final rule is unchanged from the 
interim final rule. Further, this final rule makes a conforming 
amendment to the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services to reflect a 
change to the regulation affected by this rule.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ A final rule reorganizing and updating the regulations 
relating to passports, and which incorporated the interim final rule 
redefining expedited passport processing, was published at 72 FR 
64930 (Nov. 19, 2007). As a result of the reorganization implemented 
by that rule, the regulation affected by this final rule is now at 
22 CFR 51.56(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Analysis of Comments

    Eight comments were submitted in response to the request for 
comments. Two were unsolicited business offers and one was a test e-
mail to ascertain the accessibility of the e-mailbox being used. Five 
were substantive comments, including comments submitted by the American 
Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

Notice to the Public

    Three individuals expressed concern that the publication of the 
expedited passport processing standard on the Department's Web site 
would not provide sufficient notice of the standard to the public.
    The Department indicates on its Web site the date on which any 
change to the number of business days constituting expedited passport 
processing becomes effective. Moreover, the number of business days 
that constitutes expedited passport processing is a matter of policy 
determined by the Department. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b), statements of 
general agency policy are not subject to the requirement of notice and 
comment rulemaking. Thus, any modifications of the policy regarding 
what constitutes expedited passport processing, including changes to 
the number of business days that constitute expedited processing, are 
not subject to notice and comment rulemaking.
    While one commenter felt that the link to processing times was too 
difficult to locate, it should be noted that the link appears at the 
top of the home page for passport information and as such, is readily 
accessible to anyone seeking information on U.S. passports. In fact, 
the http://www.travel.state.gov Web site was designed with ease of use 
for the public as a primary goal. The Department believes the current 
Web site design is sufficient to meet the public's needs.

Nature of Service

    Two commenters stated that Web site publication of the expedited 
processing standard raised the possibility that applicants paying the 
expedite fee would not receive the same service and that they would not 
be able to quickly obtain a passport in case of emergency.
    Applicants who request expedited service and pay the expedited 
processing fee can expect to receive expedited processing within the 
context of circumstances affecting passport application processing 
times. Changes to the expedited processing time published on the Web 
site are intended to reflect those circumstances. In addition, citizens 
in emergency situations have always been and continue to be a priority 
to the Department. Applicants with urgent travel needs may apply for 
expedited processing either by mail or in person at a passport agency.

Refunds

    One commenter suggested that the Department should provide a waiver 
of the expedited processing fee or a refund for failure to process 
expedited passport applications within the time published on the 
Department's Web site. The Department's regulations at 22 CFR 51.53 
already provide for a refund of the expedited processing fee in cases 
where the Department does not provide expedited processing as defined 
in 22 CFR 51.56. Applicants seeking such a refund of the expedite fee 
must submit a written refund request to the Department. Such requests 
may be submitted to the Department by mail at the address provided on 
the Department's Web site, http://www.travel.state.gov, or by e-mail at 
the address provided on http://www.travel.state.gov. A link to the 
Department's e-mail portal for expedite fee refund requests is included 
on the Web site.

Procedural Issues

    One commenter said the interim final rule was procedurally 
deficient because it sought to incorporate by reference information 
from the Department's Web site in the regulation. The commenter 
objected to the Department's alleged failure to follow the procedure 
for incorporation by reference. However, the rules applying to 
incorporation by reference--contained in 1 CFR Part 51, which 
implements 5 U.S.C. 552 (see the paragraph following 5 U.S.C. 
552(a)(1)(E))--normally apply when a rule imposes a burden or 
regulatory standard on the public. This rule does not regulate the 
public; rather, it sets the standard for agency conduct. For this 
reason, the procedures relating to incorporation by reference do not 
apply to this rule.

[[Page 47727]]

Regulatory Findings

Administrative Procedure Act

    The Department published this rule as an interim final rule, with a 
60-day provision for post-promulgation public comments. The comment 
period closed on October 15, 2007.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of State, in accordance with the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), has reviewed this regulation, and, 
by approving it, certifies that this rule is not expected to have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
because only individuals can apply for passports.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not result in the expenditure by state, local, and 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more in any year and it will not significantly or uniquely 
affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary 
under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996. This rule will not 
result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a 
major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on 
the ability of the U.S.-based companies to compete with foreign based 
companies in domestic and import markets.

Executive Order 12866

    The Department of State does not consider this rule to be a 
``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 12866, section 
3(f). In addition, the Department is exempt from Executive Order 12866 
except to the extent that it is promulgating regulations, in 
conjunction with a domestic agency, that are significant regulatory 
actions. The Department has nevertheless reviewed the regulation to 
ensure its consistency with the regulatory and philosophy and 
principles set forth in Executive Order 12866.
    OMB does not consider this rule to be a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under Executive Order 12866, section 3(f).

Executive Order 13132

    This regulation will not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with section 6 
of Executive Order 13132, it is determined that this rule does not have 
sufficient federalism implications to require consultations or warrant 
the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not impose any new reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 35.

List of Subjects

22 CFR Part 22

    Consular services, Fees, Passports and Visas.

22 CFR Part 51

    Administrative practice and procedure, Drug traffic control, 
Passports and Visas.

0
Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, Title 22, Parts 22 and 51 
are amended as follows:

PART 22--SCHEDULE OF FEES FOR CONSULAR SERVICES--DEPARTMENT OF 
STATE AND FOREIGN SERVICES

0
1. The authority citation for Part 22 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1153 note, 1351, 1351 note; 10 U.S.C. 
2602(c); 22 U.S.C. 214, 2504(a), 4201, 4206, 4215, 4219; 31 U.S.C. 
9701; Public Law 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681 et seq.; Public Law 108-
447, 118 Stat. 2809 et seq.; E.O. 10718, 22 FR 4632, 3 CFR, 1954-
1958 Comp., p. 382; E.O. 11295, 31 FR 10603, 3 CFR, 1966-1970 Comp., 
p. 570.


0
2. Section 22.1 is amended by revising entry 3 of the table to read as 
follows:


Sec.  22.1  Schedule of Fees

* * * * *

                 Schedule of Fees for Consular Services
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Item No.                               Fee
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Passport and Citizenship Services
------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              * * * * * * *
3. Expedited Service: Passport processing within expedited           $60
 processing period published on the Department's Web site
 (22 CFR 51.56(b)) (not applicable abroad).................

                              * * * * * * *
------------------------------------------------------------------------

PART 51--PASSPORTS

0
3. The authority citation for Part 51 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 22 U.S.C. 211a, 213, 2651a, 2671(d)(3), 2714, and 
3926; 31 U.S.C. 9701; E.O. 11295, 3 CFR, 1966-1970 Comp. p. 570; 
Sec. 236 Public Law 106-113, 113 stat. 1501A-430; 18 U.S.C. 
1621(a)(2); 42 U.S.C. 652, as amended by Sec. 370 Public Law 104-193 
and Sec. 7303 Public Law 109-171.


0
4. Section 51.56(b) is revised to read as follows:


Sec.  51.56  Expedited passport processing.

* * * * *
    (b) Expedited passport processing shall mean completing processing 
within the number of business days published on the Department's Web 
site, http://www.travel.state.gov, commencing when the application 
reaches a Passport Agency or, if the application is already with a 
Passport Agency, commencing when the request for expedited processing 
is approved. The processing will be considered completed when the 
passport is ready to be picked up by the applicant or is mailed to the 
applicant, or a letter of passport denial is transmitted to the 
applicant.
* * * * *

    Dated: September 9, 2009.
Janice L. Jacobs,
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State.
[FR Doc. E9-22417 Filed 9-16-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4710-06-P




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