By Jesse Greenspan
ALYSON GROVE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Janice Searight looks through applications for passports Monday at the International Center, 915 N. Tyndall Ave. Students can now obtain passports at this location, as well as downtown, which was previously the only Tucson location to issue passports.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 18, 2002
Students and staff in need of passports can get them at a new office on-campus instead of heading downtown.
The office ¸ within the Office of International Faculty and Scholars ¸ opened Aug. 19 to service UA students and faculty going abroad.
"The people serviced so far are glad to come here as opposed to traveling to the (downtown) courthouse," said Janice Searight, the passport acceptance agent hired to head the whole operation.
Director of OIFS Carol Carpenter estimated they are currently serving three to four people a day, but expects business to pick up.
Previously, the closest place a student or professor could find a passport was at the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County, 110 W. Congress St.
"The courthouse does excellent work, but there has been a need for this service for quite a while," Carpenter said. "There has been a steady stream (of customers). It's not been overwhelming, but that's just with the Web site (for advertising)."
No funds for the program are taken out of the UA budget, Carpenter said.
For Carpenter and Searight, the office is the response to a demand for passports that went unmet last year.
Carpenter put up an online questionnaire last year that asked people what they thought of a passport office on campus, and received 200 positive comments within the span of a week.
Those who want a passport must go to the Passport Application Acceptance Service, located on the first floor of the International Center, 915 N. Tyndall Ave. Because most people renew their passports directly through the U.S. Department of State, the service is primarily for U.S. citizens who have never owned one.
Passport applicants must round up two 2-inch-by-2-inch passport photos, a certified birth certificate and a picture ID before applying for a passport.
For people over the age of 16, a passport costs $85 and takes about six weeks. The office accepts payment by check.
One advantage to using the office's passport service is that requests will be sent out the same day they come in, said Searight. This is not guaranteed at the courthouse.
And there's no line.
"Every individual case is different and every person is different," Searight said. "I want to give everyone who comes in my own personal care."
For family studies and human development sophomore Jerry Matiatos, it was this personal touch that made his experience enjoyable.
"Janice was great," Matiatos said. "She was very informed on what she was doing and was very personable. Aside from side conversations, it probably would have taken no more than 10 minutes." Despite a number of students such as Matiatos, who found out about the office online, it has instead been members of the community who have comprised the majority of the passport service's customers so far, Carpenter said.
In three or four cases, OIFS helped the children of international students and visiting scholars gain passports.
For students planning on studying abroad, a visa may also be required depending on the country, and this service is not provided at OIFS.