Passport renewal update - things are mostly good now.

In my previous blog post, I was very critical of the consulate and State Department. I'm still very critical of their policies, however, I was able to get everything straightend out.

Since the blocks on my passport were in error, after I got those cleared up, the consulate has actually been very helpful.

So, I have my new passport, but the State Department instructed them not to return my old passport, because it's been revoked, and not just canceled. Not having my old passport creates big problems for me, because it's not the normal procedure.

I contacted the State Department legal affairs office directly, and requested them to return my old passport. I contacted the prosecutor's office where the original mistakes were made, and they contacted the State Department, and requested them to return my old passport. I contacted my congressman's office, but I never got a response, so I don't know if they did anything about getting my old passport returned. Now, as I write this, my old passport is in the mail, to the consulate, to be returned to me. I have a tracking number, and anxiously awaiting it.

When I go to the Public Security Bureau (PSB), the first time, they told me that I need some documentation from the consulate saying why I don't have my passport. Well, I have that documentation, in the form of my revocation letter, but it makes me look like a criminal. So I called the consulate, and they were very helpful, and went out of the normal prodecure to write me a vague letter simply saying it has been returned to USA.

I returned to the PSB, with a copy of that letter, saying my passport has been returned to USA, and they said I need an original, not a copy. So I got the original letter, and went back to the PSB, and they said I need my old visa.

At this point, I wasn't sure what to do. If I had lost my passport, I'd need to make a police report first, before I could even get a new passport. So I was thinking, if I had a police report saying my passport is missing (technically it was), it'd make everything easier to deal with the PSB. But I definitely don't want to do anything illegal, so I contacted the consulate to ask for advice, and before I could even ask, they said that the State Department had changed their mind, and decided to return my old passport to me.

I explained to the consulate, how I had gotten the runaround from the PSB, and they said they'd contact the Chinese government through official channels, to see what can be done. They got me an appointment for the next day, with the head of the PSB, and explaned everything about what is going on.

This time, things went smoother at the PSB. I'm very worried about overstaying my visa. I can stay in China, until December 15th, and that date is rapidly approaching. I can't even leave China, without my old passport. The officer I talked with at the PSB said that if I can get the old passport returned to me, then that would be best, because they can just extend it, and if I overstay, it's not a problem, because they'd nullify that. If I can't get my old passport, then they'd give me the documents I need to leave the country, where I'd have to apply for another passport, which is expensive and takes a few days, so obviously getting the old passport returned to me is best.

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