My brother-in-law is a UK citizen who just passed his US citizenship interview. They scheduled his oath ceremony for late August, and he has flights to Mexico booked for late October, so he wouldn't get his US passport in time (expedited passports take 3 months currently). Any ideas for how he could keep his travel plans? He is not willing to travel to Mexico by land, which rules out getting Real ID. He is considering getting a same day passport in Chicago, but is stressed out at having to leave that for within 72 hours of the travel and not having a guarantee that it will work.
The most surefire approach is as follows:
- Wait until its 2 weeks before your trip, making sure you already have your citizenship document at hand by then
- Call the Department of State at 8:00am ET on the dot (important - you want to be one of the first callers that day) and make an appointment for an emergency passport. You can only do this 2 weeks before your travel date, otherwise they won't give you a slot.
- Show up for the appointment, hand them your documents and you'll have a passport in your hands within 24 hours
My US citizen friend did this last week and it was very easy to get an appointment at the Seattle passport agency. But do note that this will require you to travel in person to one of the passport agencies which could mean taking an extra round-trip flight depending on where you live.
Other options include:
- Fly to Mexico with your UK passport and try to fly back on an ESTA obtained on your British passport, along with your naturalization certificate. As long as your ESTA is issued, you're good to go. You'll be scolded by the CBP agent upon arrival for doing this but legally speaking there's nothing they can do to you once you're arrived to a point of entry.
- Fly to Mexico, then cross overland to go back home. Same deal as with option #1 - the CBP agent might be annoyed you don't have your US passport but they don't really have a choice other than to let you in. Carry your UK passport and your naturalization certificate.
- File an expedited passport application and pray for the best. There are some reports of the State Department issuing passports faster these days so there's a good chance you'll get it by your flight in the end of October.
There seems to be conflicting information between the CBP and usa.gov, the latter suggesting that US citizens entering from the western hemisphere (Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean) can use an enhanced driver's license (Real ID), while the CBP states that only for land or sea travel, but not for air travel.
In any case, as in the comments above, a US citizen entering the us with foreign passport and presenting his naturalization certificate cannot be denied entry.