I'm sure this is a pretty unique situation I've gotten myself into, and it's certainly complicated. I'm not sure what I should be doing.

I came to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in May of 2013. I got a tourist visa good for 90 days. In August of 2013, I went with my Brazilian girlfriend to the Federal Police at the airport and extended the visa until mid-November. On November 7, I married my Brazilian girlfriend.

My intention is to stay in Brazil until my wife is granted a visa and allowed to enter the United States with me. That should take us about a year. So right now I'm in the country illegally and have been since about November 15th. From everything I've read, this isn't an ideal situation, but not much can happen. Worst case scenario is I get deported or have to pay a fine when I leave or return. If I was asked to leave the country, I'm fairly certain there would be a legal way around it since I'm married to a Brazilian national. Perhaps applying for the permanent visa. So it's cause for some anxiety, but I'm not particularly worried about it.

My problem is this. I just realized my United States passport expires in mid-March. I'm supposed to renew it at a local embassy or consulate. Due to my illegal status, I obviously don't want to do that.

So, I'm wondering. Is there anything to stop me from mailing my current passport to the United States and having a family member have it renewed by mail for me and then send it back to Brazil? Are there any considerations to be taken in doing this? What are the risks?

  • On a related note, the Expatriates SE site should be starting any day now, you might want to join that when it does and ask there about how to get Brazilian residency status based on your marriage!
    – Gagravarr
    Feb 27, 2014 at 18:31

3 Answers 3


I am not sure what are you worried about renewing your passport at a US Embassy. If you're married to a Brazilian national you should have a method of staying in the country legally, which is irrelevant for this question but you should have availed yourself of it.

If your passport is less then 15 years old and have not been damaged in any way you can submit it by mail and you don't have to be in the country to do it.


State Department will not send the passport back to an address outside the United States and the payment usually is required by check from a US bank or Money Order. So you will need to have someone in the US receive your passport, send it to State Department, receive it from them and send it to you in Brazil.

I think the simplest way would be to renew your passport when you're ready to leave instead of now.

  • I would suggest that being in a foreign country with an expired passport is probably not a good plan. Feb 27, 2014 at 19:51
  • @GregHewgill No it's not but since people are looking for complicated solutions it may be a solution.
    – Karlson
    Feb 27, 2014 at 20:03

I once had extra pages put into my passport at a US consulate when I had "overstayed my welcome" in the country in question. The US consulate displayed exactly zero interest in my immigration status in that country.

You ask

Are there any considerations to be taken when doing this?

Yes: you're making life much harder for yourself than you need to, in light of the fact that the US embassy does not care about your immigration status in Brazil.

  • This isn't an answer to the question...
    – Berwyn
    Aug 6, 2016 at 15:50
  • 1
    @Berwyn See the edited answer: I am suggesting something to consider in weighing whether it's really worth the hassle to do a mail renewal when one is outside the US.
    – phoog
    Aug 6, 2016 at 16:20
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    The OP's passport is about to expire. Is your suggestion that he doesn't renew it? Oh wait, your extra pages comment confused me. You're just suggesting the OP renews his passport in Brazil and ignores the fact he's out of status
    – Berwyn
    Aug 6, 2016 at 16:46

Regarding your fear of being illegal in Brazil and not being able to renew your passport at the U.S. Embassy:

Your illegal status is relevant to Brazil.

Spain doesn't care about your Brazilian status and neither would America, because you're not breaking those countries' laws.

The U.S. Embassy is on American soil, with American officers, without legal jurisdiction in Brazil.

Moreover, the U.S. Embassy is seen as a safe haven for American citizens. I don't see them handing you over to the Brazilian government. Imagine the news headlines: U.S. Embassy Betrays American Citizen because he Fell in Love

Bottom line - I wouldn't be too concerned about going to the U.S. Embassy if I was illegal in another country.

(standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. But I am a 7-year travel veteran with a passport almost full of stamps and multi-page visas.)

  • 1
    You will find no support in any UN treaty regarding embassies for the "U.S. Embassy is on American soil" belief. Embassies have privileged status via the Vienna Convention 1961, but unless the host nation specifically gives the land to the guest nation in such a way that it changes sovereign ownership (which is a huge thing), the soil remains the property of the host nation. The US considers it sovereign soil, but that don't make it so in reality.
    – user29788
    Jun 19, 2017 at 9:48
  • @Moo is correct. For example, a child born in a US diplomatic mission is not born "in the United States" for the purpose of the 14th amendment.
    – phoog
    Jun 19, 2017 at 13:20
  • @Moo thanks for the clarifying detail:) Is the U.S. citizen safe inside the U.S. embassy.. or does Brazil (the host country) have legal rights and jurisdiction to go inside the American embassy and extract the individual? Jun 20, 2017 at 10:50
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    @JakeBerger I have no idea about Brazil, but the UK has it enshrined in law that UK law officers can enter a guest nations embassy without permission. I'm guessing the US Embassy protection detail might take umbrance at any such move... I'm not going to trawl through Brazilian law to see if they have a similar thing enshrine :)
    – user29788
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:54

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