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US State Department Overwhelmed by Passport Demand — Here’s Why You Need to Renew ASAP

The U.S. State Department says it is grappling with an unprecedented surge in passport demand as international travel resumes, prompting officials to urge Americans to check their passports and renew them in advance if they plan to travel abroad this year.

In fiscal year 2022, the State Department issued a record-breaking nearly 22 million passports, and projections indicate that this fiscal year, which ends in September, will surpass that record, a State Department spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

The surge in demand has resulted in approximately 400,000 passport applications per week, with volumes in January through May exceeding 500,000 applications weekly. During certain weeks, the number of pending applications has doubled compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year, the spokesperson said.

However, due to fluctuations, an overall backlog figure cannot be provided at this time, according to the spokesperson. It had been reported by CNN that Americans with summer travel plans should not expect passport processing times to return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of the year.

The processing time for new passports was extended, for the third time, by the department in March. Travelers can expect to wait 10 to 13 weeks for routine processing and seven to nine weeks for expedited processing. Before the pandemic, routine processing typically took six to eight weeks, while expedited processing took two to three weeks. Expedited processing incurs an extra $60 fee.

To address the overwhelming demand, the State Department says it has focused on bolstering its workforce. Staffing levels have been increased, and hundreds of additional personnel are currently in the hiring pipeline.

In an effort to expedite processing, the spokesperson said that staff members have been working tens of thousands of overtime hours per month since January, with authorized overtime hours ranging between 30,000 and 40,000 each month.

The State Department has also enlisted volunteers from various divisions, including retirees and new hires, to join surge teams dedicated to adjudicating passport applications before they assume other assignments.

Unprecedented Demand

Currently, the only available method for scheduling an appointment is by calling the National Passport Information Center. However, these appointments are extremely limited, and priority is given to life-or-death emergencies. Walk-in appointments are not permitted at passport agencies.

In response to the overwhelming volume of calls received, the State Department has tripled the number of lines at the National Passport Information Center and is actively recruiting and training additional staff to handle the influx. Furthermore, the center now offers weekend service on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time.

In a bid to enhance efficiency and convenience, the State Department is gearing up for the official launch of its online passport renewal program later this year. The program, which was temporarily suspended on Feb. 7 after a year-long testing phase, is expected to benefit a significant number of passport renewal customers.

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his optimism about the online platform, saying that it has the potential to cater to approximately “65 percent of renewal customers” once it becomes fully operational.

Last year witnessed a historic milestone for the State Department, with a record-breaking nearly 22 million passports processed, marking the highest number since the tallying of passports began in 1974.

Currently, passport renewal can only be done through in-person appointments or by mail. U.S. residents can check the status of their passport renewal or application on the designated webpage provided by the State Department.

As international travel rebounds after the pandemic, officials strongly advise Americans to verify the expiration dates of their passports before making any international travel arrangements. Many countries require passports to be valid for at least six months beyond the planned departure date. This information is available on the State Department’s Country Information webpage.

  • Tamirose170 says:

    Perhaps they should borrow 80K workers from the IRS, leaving 6K IRS “new” agents to do deep dives on EVERY elected official – from the Federal Level, ALL Judges, all Board of Directors, all Senators/House of Representatives, Governors and all the way down to the Dog Catcher. IF you are Elected or Appointed by someone that is Elected – the IRS should be doing an AUDIT of them and their family member. We need to connect all of the dots in these Family Legacy’s ~ No one is a Public Servant like Joe Biden for 50 years, and end up with multiple million-dollar mansions, garages filled with expensive rare vehicles, lavish lifestyle, etc. Look at Obama – Senator pay check while on the Presidential Campaign Trail and works 8 yrs and now sits on a Mega-Yacht with Tom Hanks while his husband Michael tweets about Affirmative Action (in the meantime, both of them LOST their license to practice law) – valued at nearly 100 Million for 8 yrs in the White House. Public Office was never supposed to lead to Millionaire Lifestyle afterwards. The corruption that Obama & Biden permitted to fester is beyond words – They created the virus that shut the Country down, took me 5 months to enroll onto Medicare (because no one was at the Social Security office) in Florida yet kids were sitting next to each other in class & at the lunch table (DeSantis ?) – it did NOT make an ounce of sense and now the taxpayers pick up the tab for all of the overtime caused by the corrupt & crooked government aka Biden/Obama/Soros.

  • Proud Veteran says:

    Wow! I thought it was just conservatives trying to leave commiefornia! Now its people wanting out of the divided States of America!

  • Russell says:

    Suggestion: Take about half of those 87,000 IRS agents, and get your mess cleaned up!

  • Thomas says:

    Too many lazy Affirmative Action hires in the Federal Gov.

  • True Patriot says:

    well when you have over 3 million illegal aliens enter your country in a short period of time, once they get established they want to travel back home and show all the money they have earned by not having to pay taxes and being sign up on all the free programs to feed, house and medically take care of them, so they don’t have to spend of the money they are earning either

    • ThePeopleArePissed says:

      @True Patriot – You hit the nail on the head. The illegals are are showing up at the local post ofc passport office in record numbers, many unable to speak or read a word of English.

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