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Passport Denial Program

The Passport Denial Program, established by Public Law 104-193, Section 370, to deny passports to individuals who owe child support, and to meet the requirements of the law. Its intent is to enforce collection of past-due child support.

Effective, October 1, 1997 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation ACT (PRWORA) amended the Social Security Act to provide for denial, revocation and restriction of U.S. passports if a NCP has arrears greater than the federally mandated threshold.

Currently, a passport can only be revoked or physically taken if the passport agency, US Embassy, US Consulate or Department of State (DoS) has the passport in hand, such as when the noncustodial parent (NCP) is renewing an existing passport or having pages added.

The federally mandated threshold was originally $5000 but the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) reduced it to $2500 effective October 1, 2007. If an NCP has multiple cases, the combined principal and interest balances for all cases must be less than the threshold.

Passport denial is automatic for NCPs that owe more than $2500 unless:

  • The state excludes the case from referral
  • The NCPs date of birth (DOB) or place of birth (POB) is invalid
  • The current name and social security number (SSN) do not match

States must provide notice to the NCP via the Pre-Offset Notice (PON) prior to submitting the case to the passport denial program. Currently, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issues the PON to the NCP upon initial certification of a case. NCPs have the right to contest the delinquency with the state that referred them to the passport denial program.

Only the submitting state can withdraw a NCP from the passport denial program. If a case has an intergovernmental component, the initiating state refers for passport denial, through the Federal Administrative Offset Program (which includes IRS referrals). If more than one state has certified the NCP for passport denial, states must withdraw the individual for them to obtain their passport.

TIP: You can access the Child Support Portal/QUICK (CSP/Quick) to verify if another state has referred the NCP for passport denial.

Removing a NCP from the Passport Denial Program:

  • Cases paid to zero result in automatic withdrawal of passport denial.
  • Cases paid to the federally mandated threshold (currently $2500) do not automatically withdraw passport denial.
  • The referring state establishes policies and processes regarding cases with an arrearage under $2500.

Oklahoma CSS Policy (Legal Authorities)

NCP must:

  • Pay the entire child support debt down below the threshold amount
  • Enter into a payment plan in place to retire the remaining debt within 36 months

    AND

  • Provide a verified source of future income for which an income withholding order (IWO) will issue for payment of current support and arrears.
TIP: Often, offices enter into negotiations with the NCP regarding passport release. If you have requested STO release the passport but it did not qualify at that time, be sure to let the Passport Coordinator know when conditions are corrected to facilitate the release.

Emergency Release:

TIP: If an NCP is overseas and his/her passport expires and is denied a renewal (for example, by CSS), the NCP is not stranded overseas. He/She can apply for a limited-validity passport which will allow for direct returns to the US.

Verified life or death situation of an immediate family member:

  • Life or Death
    • Imminent death or funeral
    • Serious illness
    • Dangerous operation
  • Verification Required
    • Death certificate
    • Letter from attending physician, hospital or Red Cross
    • Documentation from funeral home
  • Immediate Family Member
    • Parent or guardian of the NCP
    • Child (natural or adopted)
    • Grandparent
    • Sibling
    • Aunt
    • Uncle
    • Stepchild
    • Stepparent
    • Stepbrother
    • Stepsister
    • Spouse

Erroneous Submission:

  • Incorrect SSN
  • Mistaken Identity
    The passport denial program operates on a partial match system. If two of five criteria match, a passport denial will be placed.
    The five criteria are:

    • Name
    • DOB
    • POB
    • Gender
    • SSN

Director’s Exception:

The Child Support Services (CSS) Director has the discretion to release passports from the passport denial program. If a passport release does not meet the above qualifying criteria, but the district office believes the passport denial, revocation, restriction or limitation negatively impacts a reliable source of child support, the managing attorney may email the CSS Director and copy the Center for Coordinated Programs (CCP) Passport Denial Program Coordinator requesting the policy exception. When the arrears are not assigned to the state, CSS considers the input of the custodial person when reviewing the case for release from the passport process.

CSENF Screen

CSS makes an initial passport denial referral to OCSE & the U.S. Department of State when an obligor’s arrears balance (including interest) first exceeds $2,500.00.  That referral stays with the Department of State until CSS reports the balance of arrears is zero, or when intentionally released via the State Services Portal.  Even when the balance dips below the $2500 threshold amount the Department of State will maintain the passport denial.

However, the CSENF uses criteria that indicate incorrectly to case workers that a passport is denied, or not denied.  For Passport referrals and denials the CSENF screen currently displays nothing.

CREDIT BUREAU REFERRAL ON: 03/21/2012 LOTTERY REFERRAL ON:
STATE TAX REFERRAL ON: FEDERAL TAX REFERRAL ON:
PASSPORT DENIAL ON:

The logic of what to display on CSENF is described as being “CSENF does not show the date referred for passport denial unless the most recent IRSI balance sent to FMS for the TANF and non-TANF referrals added together is greater than or equal to $2500.”  When the date filed on CSENF is blank the inference is that CSS has not made a referral and/or the Department of State has not flagged the NCP for Passport Denial.  Since the actual passport denial could still exist, this could lead CARE or caseworkers to inaccurate results.

For now, instead of CSENF, use the federal Child Support Portal which maintains accurate Passport referral information.  All case workers have access.