American born child of Indian parents!

After 9 months of anxiety, caution, happiness, dietary discipline, dedication and hard-work, my wife gave birth to a healthy baby. Though everyone had warned us that the 9 months of pregnancy was the easy part, we had set the delivery date as a huge milestone in our life that will be followed by tons of happiness with a brief period of sleep deprivation. But soon after the birth of our child, we realized that this “brief” period of sleep deprivation is likely going to be very long, and accompanied by multiple magnitudes of anxiety, caution, happiness, dietary discipline, dedication and hard work.

In the middle of all this, we were faced with the question of making a decision on our child’s nationality for the first 18 years of his life. My wife and I are Indian citizens, legally residing in the US. Our child was born on US soil. Per existing regulations, this made him eligible to select between Indian or American citizenship for the first 18 years of age. Unfortunately, India does not yet support dual citizenship. So once our child becomes a legal adult, he will need to pick between either of the two countries for his nationality and renounce the other nationality, if India still does not support dual citizenship by that time.

We had often heard about the downside of becoming an American national – such as the possibility of being drafted into American military services once he turned 18, income tax liability towards uncle sam on global income, ineligibility to run for government office in India, ineligibility to own agricultural land in India, ineligibility for domestic quota at Indian educational institutions and defaulting to Non-Resident Indian (NRI) quota.

Our nationalistic beliefs towards India further compounded the difficulty of making this decision on behalf of our newborn.

Finally we decided to take the easy way out. There is a strong chance that we will continue to reside in a country other than India (or travel often from India to foreign countries) for several of the first 18 years of our child’s age, with him tugged along. It is usually easier to travel internationally on an American passport as it eliminates the need for a tourist visa in many countries. Moreover, it was comparatively easier to apply for an American passport while residing in the US. We do not anticipate our child to own agricultural land before he turns 18. He would anyway be ineligible to run for government office until he turns 18. And we were willing to bear the additional cost of his education in India due to his NRI status. After he turns 18, he can then choose his nationality based on his beliefs and interests.

Now that the hard part of making the decision was done, we just had to complete the “easy” part of getting all official documents. After researching online, I found differing answers on the process of applying for an American passport and an Indian visa for our child. So here is the exact process that I followed:

  • 6 hours from birth – Enquired with the nurse about the process for getting a birth certificate
  • 12 hours from birth – Completed the birth records information sheet that was given to me by the hospital in the information packet. Informed the nurse that we would like to expedite the process for getting a birth certificate. Nurse agreed to communicate this to the birth records officer
  • 30 hours from birth – On-site birth records officer collected information sheet. This is when I reminded her about our request to expedite the birth certificate process. She agreed to overnight relevant information to the Vital Records Office for our county. She also suggested us to call the Vital Records office 7 days from birth to check on availability of birth certificate and then either request a copy by mail or visit the office in person. I did not have to pay any fees to expedite this process.
  • Also 30 hours from birth – Completed the form for issuing a social security number (SSN) which said that it will take about 8 weeks to process the request but would avoid a separate visit to the Social Security Administration office.
  • 7 days from birth – Called the Office of Birth and Death at the Vital Records Office for our county. The clerk first said that the birth certificate was not ready, when I insisted and repeated that the onsite officer was going to overnight the information to them, she checked again and said that I can visit the office to pick it up. Drove over to the office in 20 minutes after the phone call, there was no line, completed a simple one page form, paid $19 in cash, showed my photo ID and picked up an unrestricted certified copy of the Birth Certificate 10 minutes later. I would recommend getting 2 original copies of the birth certificate if you don’t have even a few days to spare between the time you receive his passport and apply for his visa.
  • 10 days from birth – Reviewed for passport application instructions. The website was unclear about the need for an SSN for an infant applicant – but the birth records officer had mentioned that SSN is not needed for applying for a passport for an infant. On calling the 1-800 number for the US Department of State, I was told that I can enter 000-00-0000 as the SSN on the application form.
  • 10 days from birth – Called the nearest post office that served as a passport acceptance facility to schedule an appointment for applying for passport. Soonest available appointment was 2 weeks away, so called a few other facilities until found a post office that accepted walk-in applications and also took passport photographs.
  • 12 days from birth – Went to the post office with my wife and son, completed DS-11 application form, son’s original birth certificate, our original passports, photocopy of our passports, our original legal status documents and checkbook. It is important for both parents to visit in-person or get an affidavit from the parent that cannot visit personally. The agent helping us was really nice despite the fact that she had to click 6 photos until she finally got a photo where our son kept his eyes open. We opted for expedited service at an additional cost of $60 and overnight delivery at an additional cost of $15. The total cost, including passport photographs, was $194.96.
  • 26 days from birth – We received our son’s passport through overnight delivery.
  • 29 days from birth – We reached the Indian consulate in San Francisco at 9:30 AM with a completed copy of the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card application form, two passport-sized photos of our son, original birth certificate, original passport of our son, original passport of both parents, original legal status document of both parents, copy of apartment lease, photocopy of all documents. Only one person per service was allowed to enter the consulate. I took a number and waited for about 5 minutes when my number was called. The clerk verified the application form and all documents. Since I opted for overnight delivery of PIO card (instead of in-person pick-up), she provided me with a FedEx envelope and asked me to complete the “To” address field. Next I got into the cashier’s queue to pay the application fee with a debit card. In about 20 minutes, I paid a total of $208 which included the application fee, overnight delivery fee and debit card convenience fee. I was told that the card will be sent to me in about 15 working days. Now I am just waiting for the card. (Update: We got the PIO card on 55th day from birth. So it took about 26 days to get the PIO card – perhaps due to the Thanksgiving break.)
  • Tip: Several online resources provide detailed difference between Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. But OCI card application process takes about 90 days and I did not want to wait that long. Since India does not support dual citizenship, OCI is a misnomer for a life-time visa.
  • Update: A comment from one of our blog readers, prodded me to review the eligibility requirements for OCI in detail. As per instructions on this webpage from Indian Embassy our son is not eligible to apply for OCI because “Minors whose both parents are Indian are not elligible for OCI”
  • Update on the update: As per a few additional and more recent comments on this post, apparently now minors with Indian parents can also apply for OCI

Hopefully the above post will provide clarity on the process for getting all travel documents for a child born to Indian parents in the US. As always please leave your questions or feedback in the comments section.

Following blog post on a related topic may be of interest to you: Foreigner registration in India for infant child with PIO card

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37 comments on “American born child of Indian parents!
  1. dee says:

    Can you help us figure this out. To apply for a visa for a baby does the baby have to be present to apply for the india visa?

    • Ashish Agrawal says:

      From the website of Travisia Outsourcing (company that handles processing of Indian visa applications), it appears that the baby does not need to be present while applying for Indian visa. However, I would suggest you to confirm this from your nearest consulate or visa processing center.

      Below is the link for Travisia Outsourcing that addresses your question:

  2. Ven says:

    Is parents visa status mandatory for submitting PIO application. I came to US on L1B which is expired and the extension got denied. Then my company filed B1/B2 which is still in process. I have B1/B2 receipt however not having the decision on it. Is it an issue while submitting PIO application ??

    • Ashish Agrawal says:

      As far as I remember, we had to provide the photocopy of our green card as proof of legal presence in the US. You may want to check with the Indian consulate. Also, if you do not have a US passport for your child already, then you also need to check documents needed for getting the US passport.

      Congratulations on your newborn and all the best.

  3. Mahesh says:

    Hello Ashish, Thanks for the very helpful post. I have to travel to India on Dec 29, 2011 and will have my new born babies passport hopefully on Dec 14, 2011 and can apply for the Indian PIO on the same day which is exactly 15 days before Dec 29, 2011. But if I do not receive the PIO card (lets say by Dec 26th), do you know if I can apply for a regular India visa? Any comments on this?

    • Ashish Agrawal says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      I did not have to get a visa for my child – so unsure what the exact rules are for such a situation. But I would imagine that it should be acceptable to get a visa while the PIO card application is still pending. Just make sure you leave enough time to get the visa processed.

      It will be a good idea for you to check with Travisa who handle’s visa processing for the Indian consulate in San Francisco. Here’s a link to their website:

  4. Noushir says:

    Hi Ashish, Excellent summary, this helps a lot. So when did you finally get the card, was it within 15 days or later. So if i get it right i can get an OCI for my kid in 45 days…


    • Hi Noushir,

      Thanks for your comment.

      If I remember correctly, we got the PIO card in about 25 calendar days. It may have taken a few additional days due to Thanksgiving break.

      I believe an OCI takes about 90 days because documents are sent to India for processing. PIO cards are processed at the consulate (or Indian embassy in the US).


  5. Gaurav says:

    Hi Ashish,

    Excellent blog!!! Just one question – So kids who are born in US will be treated like NRIs in Indian schools and parents need to shell out extra fees for their education in India, even if the child holds PIO card?


    • Thanks for the comment Gaurav. I am glad you liked the blog post.

      I know for sure that kids with a non-Indian passport and a PIO card do not need a student visa or employment visa in India.

      I think they will be not be treated as Indians for the educational cost. But unsure whether they will be treated as NRIs or foreigners for the admission process and tuition fees.

  6. Madhavi says:

    Hi Ashish,

    Very useful and Helpful information

    Thank you very much ,For How many years will PIO card be issued and my daughter got only 5 years of US passport

    • Hi Madhavi,

      I am glad you found this blog post helpful.

      Our son’s PIO card is valid for a period of 15 years from date of issue.

      Also, I don’t think it matters how long your daughter has had her US passport.

  7. Raghu says:

    I have to apply for Indian Tourist Visa for my baby boy as we are travelling to India on Sep 13th. I am on H1B and applied for extension, received my extension whereas the validity dates(1/23/2015(should be 5/19/2012) – 7/7/2015) are wrong so my company sent for correction.

    My question is – will the consulate accept the visa approval with wrong validity dates if I provide a cover letter stating tht i sent for correction. I am not sure if my company will provide any such letter so the letter would be from my side to consulate

    Is parents visa status mandatory for applying Indian Tourist visa?

    Please help me.

    • That’s a very interesting situation. Unfortunately I do not know how the consulate will react to this situation.

      But intuitively, since you are applying for a regular tourist visa for your son – your immigration status in the US should not come into question. As long as your son has valid documents, his Indian visa application should be processed like that of any foreigner.

      Best course is, if you are based in a city that has an India consulate, make a quick trip and check with them.

    • Oh one more thing, you can even try contacting Travisa – who is responsible for processing Indian visa applications:

  8. Mahesh Gupta says:

    Thank you so much for a detailed note, It really helped me a lot and I got all the things for my new born within 24 days including PIO card,

    In short,

    1. I got PIO card for my on 24 day of birth.
    2. I received Passport / SSN / birth certificate within 10 days of birth
    3. I spent total $409 in getting my son passport and PIO card using expedited services / shipping.

    here are details.

    1. Baby Born – Last hour of Dec/02/2012 Sunday (Cost $0)

    2. Birth Information filled by and submitted to Texas Vital Statistics by Hospital Electronically on Dec/04/2012, Tuesday morning at the time of hospital discharge (COST $0) with Social Security Form.

    3. Dec/07/2012 called Office of Birth and Death at the Vital Records Office for my county to check whether information is updated or not and they confirmed yes, it should be by now and I can collect it at any time but Monday is the best time to come to avoid worst case scenario.(COST $0)

    4. Dec/10/2012, Monday, personally visited Birth and Death at the Vital Records Office for my county to to collect the Birth Certificate (Cost : $23 per copy)

    5. Dec/10/2012 evening, Called the Passport Acceptance Facility to check, ho to get the passport ASAP, they asked me to booked the appointment and visit the premises and might get passport in same day too. (COST $0)

    6. Dec/10/2012 evening, Booked an appointment with Regional Passport Acceptance Facility for Wednesday, Dec/12/2012 for 3:00 PM

    7. Dec/11/2012, visited multiple store to get passport photo for new born, tried with Costco, Post Office, Wallmart, sears but all denied, finally CVS agreed to shoot a photo but Child didn;t opened the eye, which is one of the requirement. so took a self photo at night and modified that to passport size online @ (Cost $0) and printed at CVS for ($0.35 cents) for 4*6 print, which has 6 passport size photo on Dec/11/2012, Tuesday,

    8. Dec/11/2012, Tuesday, On mail, I received the Social Security Number / Card too when I checked in evening.

    9. Visited Regional Passport Acceptance Facility for Wednesday, Dec/12/2012 for 3:00 and applied for passport book cost ($165) with $60 expedited fees + $80 Passport Fees + $25 Execution Fees.

    The office closes @ 3:00 PM so they asked me to pick up the passport next day Dec/13/2012

    10. Dec/13/2012, pickup the passport around 2:00 PM and filled the online PIO application and completed all the necessary paperwork
    as mentioned in Travisa Outsourcing @ I wanted to send the form same evening but Travisa Outsourcing doesn;t accept online money . They need $200 money order or banker check only. so I was unable to send on same day Dec/13/2012 but prepared all other documents including return shipping labels and envolope

    I used FEDEX for shipping with 3 day delivery which is $12 each side using fedex envelope.

    11. Dec/14/2012, went to local bank, Bank of TEXAS and get a $200 money order for $200 with no bank fees.

    12. Dec/14/2012 @ 11:00 AM , after putting all papers in fedex envolope, reached fedex location to ship the packet. at this stage my PIO application is being sent nothing more in my control now.

    After that I was daily keeping track of PIO site to check status, this is all which I get

    Date/Time Action
    12/13/2012 5:02pm CST Service order form completed online
    12/17/2012 3:26pm CST PIO application arrived in the mail at Travisa Outsourcing. Please allow Travisa Outsourcing up to 7 business days before the application status changes. Note that your application will undergo several steps before the status is updated.
    12/17/2012 3:36pm CST Application assigned for processing
    12/18/2012 4:17pm CST Order form and supporting documents received, payment processed
    12/18/2012 5:09pm CST Documents prepared to go to Embassy.
    12/19/2012 8:48am CST Documents dispatched from Travisa Outsourcing Office to Consulate
    12/19/2012 9:47am CST Documents received by Consulate
    12/24/2012 10:06am CST Outsourcing office has verified the PIO is processed correctly. Waiting for mail courier pick up and is likely to be mailed out tomorrow.
    12/24/2012 11:21am CST Passport mailed out. Please note that the tracking information may not be active for up to 1 business day.

    13. Dec/26/2012, next day of Christmas, around 11:30 AM I got a knock at my door, and there was a FEDEX delivery, with a packet and the packet has my SON passport with a PIO CARD.

    So in my experience, it was awesome and without any delay. So in short

    1. I got PIO card for my on 24 day of birth.
    2. I received Passport / SSN / birth certificate within 10 days of birth
    3. I spent total $409 in getting my son passport and PIO card using expedited services / shipping.

    $23 1 copy of birth certificate
    $165 Passport fees
    $200 PIO processing fees
    $20 FEDEX shipping
    $1 Photo Print / Passport Photo
    $409 Total

    Let me know, your views and I believe my experience will help those are more in hurry.

    Thanks once again for reading my comment.

  9. Surya says:

    Hi Ashish! Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. my due is on july and we are not able to decide where to see my delivery whether in India or usa. The main problem is we will not be staying in usa for a long run except for some 4 years. After that we will be settling in India. If i give birth in USA will my child be treated as an NRI throughout his 18 years in India? will he be charged extra for his schooling and wont he get admission in government institutions? will he be treated in general category all through his 18years which will be difficult for us financially? can you please suggest on what basis should we decide regarding these issues. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Surya,

      Congratulations, I hope you have a healthy pregnancy.

      Assuming you are Indian nationals, even if you give birth in the US your child will be eligible for Indian citizenship at birth. If you choose to get an American passport for your child, then he will be treated as a foreigner and not NRI (Non-Resident Indian).

      If you choose Indian citizenship for your child then even if he is an NRI for the first few years, it will not impact his eligibility or cost-of-education at institutes in India. You may certainly have the advantage of leveraging NRI quota at some colleges, should you choose to do so. But by default he will be treated as any other Indian citizen.

      If you choose American citizenship then your child will be a foreigner – albeit with a special status of OCI or PIO. I have not researched enough about the implications on cost of education in such a situation.

      But the way I look at it, at least for the first 18 years of his life, my child will not need any kind of government aid. Beyond 18 he will have the option to choose his citizenship.

      I should add that this is just my opinion and you should verify the validity of everything that I have stated here.


  10. Raghu says:

    You could have done something else to protect your child’s Indian citizenship. You could have “registered” your child’s birth at the local Indian consulate – within an year of the child’s birth. By doing so, you would have staked a claim on your child’s Indian citizenship. This is the easy part. Moving on….
    Indian officials often get confused between a passport (which is a travel document) and citizenship (which is a right). Unfortunately, your options are limited – as your child needs a US passport to enter the US (US Citizens do not get US visas). So, you would have ended up doing the same thing – i.e., US passport and Indian PIO card. However, by registering your child’s birth you would have protected yourself against any future legal issues. For instance, what if your child’s application for Naturalization is rejected 20 years from now? Or if he gets indicted for a crime and gets deported? By registering his birth at an Indian consulate within 1 year of birth, you can theoretically avoid these hypothetical situations.
    Source: 2 kids born in the US. Both of them have Indian birth certificates, Indian passports (issued and cancelled), American birth certificates, American passport and Indian PIOs. Chicago and Houston consulates.

  11. Vinoth says:

    Anybody have experience in getting a PIO in India

    Here is my situation

    1) Myself and My wife are Indian citizen and I am trying to get the PIO for my minor child born in India (US citizen living with us on X-Visa)

    2) We are currently living in tier 2 city where no FRRO available

    We wonder where should we send the PIO application? couple of online documents say we need to send the application to MHA, but the payment should be in favor of FRRO-Delhi, when we contacted MHA through phone they asked us to send email and when we contacted through email, no proper info received, can anybody help on this?


    • Hi Vinoth,

      Not sure whats the best recourse in such a situation. In our experience the FRRO even at Pune provided unreliable information even in person – so unsure how accountable they will be over email.


  12. Jo says:

    Hi Ashish,

    It’s a very informative blog that you have here. I am currently residing in Charlotte with my husband who is here on an L1.. His Visa expires in Jan and I am an expecting mother and my baby is
    due in Oct… I was pondering on the possibilities of us going back to India for good with the baby sometime next year … that’s when things started getting all blurry about the Nationality and citizenship fundas…. I researched on this a lot.., but it’s all like I am shooting in the dark… I have a question for you and would be very helpful if you could help me out… I came across an information in a blog that said.., and I quote ..” A child born to parents of Indian origin in a foreign country becomes eligible for Indian citizenship if he/she stays in India for a period of 5 years”… Is that so..?

    Thanks in advance..!!!

  13. Ashish says:

    Hi Ashish,

    Me and my wife are indian nationals staying in US for 2 years. We are blessed with a baby boy here in US and he is 2 months old. Your blog helped us a lot to get SSN on time and to expedite the request. We have to go to India for a month so wanted to get my son’s passport. Wanted to get your views if it is not clear how long I will stay in US, which option should I opt for considering any legal issues that could happen in India or USA

    1) register in Indian embassy as Indian citizen and get indian passport
    2) apply for US passport and citizenship

    What are the pros and cons of both options. My understanding is that anyone who is born in US is an US citizen by default and claim for that anytime by showing US birth certificate

    I understand that final decision would be mine only


  14. Bhuvana says:

    Hi Ashish,

    I am going to apply PIO card for my two month old. I received the passport but I
    haven’t received his birth certificate yet.
    When will I receive his birth certificate.
    One more question, I have sent my husbands original Indian passport to consulate General of India for reissue. Do I need to send my hub’s original passport for applying PIO for my baby.

    • Hi Bhuvana,

      I personally visited the records office to get the birth certificate. So am unaware of the time/process for having it delivered by mail.

      I had applied for the PIO card in-person at the Indian consulate in San Francisco. So I did not have to leave our original passports behind with them. Not sure what the process if for mail-based applications.


  15. Amar says:

    Nice write up Ashish.
    My wife and I are Indian citizens and we have a baby who is born in US recently.
    To quote you “Per existing regulations, this made him eligible to select between Indian or American citizenship for the first 18 years of age.”
    It think its not true that he is eligible to choose between two citizenships. On account of his birth in US, he is and will be a US citizen, there isn’t any choosing you can do about that. Meaning, he(or the parents) cannot choose to make him a Indian citizen right now. Only after he turns 18 he can apply for Indian citizenship based on his parents’ origin (that is we being Indians)
    I was in the some state of confusion of while reading elsewhere that within one year we can register the baby’s birth at an Indian consulate here to get him Indian citizenship. But then its not true, it just a legal circumvent for obtaining the passport, no less , because using that passport the child cannot stake claim for Indian citizenship.Secondly the baby will have to get a US passport to leave the country.So there is no way of making the choice of having the baby choose Indian citizenship.

    So although I wish I could get him Indian citizenship, I decided against it , seeing there were too many legal complexities.

    Note: However if a baby is born in lets say a country like Cyprus which does not give citizenship by birth, then by registering the baby’s birth within 1 year at the Indian consulate will make the baby an Indian citizen.


    • Thanks Amar. But isn’t getting a passport equivalent to getting citizenship? Can you post a link that explains this further? Would help other readers of this blog post.

    • Amar says:

      Sorry Asish, I dont have those links that I had studied when researching on the subject right now, but what I summarized in the comment is the gist of my understanding that I have on the matter.

  16. Shobha says:

    Hi Ashish, we are applying for pio card for our 2 months old baby born in USA. We both parents are Indian citizens with Indian passport. My husband has his date of birth certificate whereas I don’t. Do both parents have to submit their date of birth certificate. The clarification wud be really helpful. Thanks!

    • Hi Shobha,

      I do not remember submitting mine or my wife’s birth certificate for our son’s PIO card.

      Passports and immigration documents (visa or green card) of parents should be adequate. You do need to submit your baby’s birth certificate.


  17. Vijay says:

    I have some different case, my Baby was born in USA and now he is 8th month old. We are planning to settled down in India in next 1 yr. Since my wife is an Govt employee so she is traveling in next 1 month to join his job and Baby will be in India with her for rest of life. We have already got USA passport and PIO.
    My dilemma is that how he can become Indian citizen and what is the legal way to get a Indian passport form him as minor so that he can get good education in India instead on NRI quota which seems to be very expensive.
    As per I see that there some ways through which I can have indian citizenship for him.

    Looks like – is valid case for me to registered my son.

    • I have not been able to quite get my head around the information available on obtaining an Indian passport for a minor born overseas. Following are the points that baffle me:

      1. Most info online indicates that registration of birth within 1st year of child’s birth is mandatory. But there is no info on what happens if you have not registered the birth. Also, the requirement for registering birth requires “Declaration letter that the child does not hold the passport of any other country”
      2. But then apparently the US government insists on getting a US passport for a US-born minor, rather than a visa. So how do we give the above declaration. Or does it mean that we register birth before getting a US passport and then get a US passport – just to game the guidelines?
      3. Then again, recently, I read this article about Devyani Khobragade’s kids having a US as well as Indian passport and how that is acceptable.

      The inquiry desk at the passport office is of not much help. They were fuzzy even about renewal of my passport under tatkal because it was previously issued by the Indian consulate in San Francisco. So I do not expect them to know much about this issue.

      Will be great if you could come back and post updates on what you end up doing about your child.

  18. Jaya says:

    Mine is entirely different from others problem.i got married in India and i went back to U.S with my husband.after 2 years i delivered a boy baby in U.S.after that he took me back to India and left me i am not having any son is 6 years old.if i want to go and stay in U.S.plz tell me is there any possibilities to go back to U.S again.depending on my son.

    • Hi Jaya, Unfortunately I do not have an opinion on this situation. But you should just call up your nearest US Consulate/Embassy and talk to them about your situation.

  19. Shikha says:

    My baby is born on 23 september and we r in usa at b1/b2 visa… is there any way for us to stay for as long as we wish to care take our child

  20. Gurmeet says:

    I need to change My US born daughters citizenship to Indian citizenship. I and my husband both are of Indian Nationality. and want to move back to Indian. My Daughter is 7 yrs, has a US passport and PIO card. Please let me know how can I take her to India and Is it possible to change her citizenship as we do not plan to come back. Let me know ASAP.

  21. Ashok says:

    Hi Ashish,
    Very informative article. I have a slightly different question: What is the status of a child born in the US to a mother visiting on B1/B2 visa? And what process needs to be followed for the child to be a US citizen? Thanks very much for your time.

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  1. […] Following blog post that provides the exact process from birth of child to obtaining all travel documents, may be of interest to you: Process for obtaining birth certificate, US passport, SSN and PIO Card for child born to Indian pare… […]