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Renewing US passport


kibutzer
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Recent article in "The Hill":

 

"Lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation on Thursday that would require the Biden administration to submit a plan to eliminate the massive U.S. passport backlog.

The Passport Backlog Elimination Act was introduced by Democratic Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) and GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Tim Burchett (Tenn.).

The bill focuses on staffing shortages at the State Department that have caused the passport backlog, requiring the agency to ensure processing time is six to eight weeks for applications and two to three weeks for expedited applications.

The State Department said in a briefing last week that processing could take up to 18 weeks. The backlog now numbers as many as 2 million passport applications, including new ones and renewals, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services Rachel Arndt told reporters.

The legislation would give the State Department a 30-day deadline to submit a plan, which must then be implemented within one month. The State Department inspector general would also have to submit an audit on the effectiveness of the plan within six months of the bill's enactment.

"Too many of our constituents are left in limbo, not sure if they will receive their passport in time," Connolly said. "Some don't even know the status of their application, and others have been forced to forego travel altogether. While I appreciate the efforts of State Department employees as they work to reduce this backlog, the need for substantial improvement remains." 

The bipartisan group of lawmakers had introduced the same legislation in July 2020. The State Department's reduced in-person workforce, leading to the long delays, was a result from COVID-19 restrictions."

 

I'll be okay up to 18 weeks but not much beyond that. New legislation and funding won't be in time to help me but seems like it could fix some things.

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Ordered middle of May.  Took a month to appear on their website as "in process".  This week I was able to add expedited service and return mailing, as I heard delays are growing.   

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Steve and I both needed new passports. We sent in our old passports, new pix, fee and paperwork in mid-April. Even though our photos were taken by the same service at the same time, mine was accepted and his was returned about two weeks later saying it didn't fit their format. So...he resubmitted his application and new pic (received by them May 7) and just got an email yesterday saying that his new book was being printed and would be sent out in a few days. My new passport came mid-June, eight weeks after I submitted it. A few days later, my old, canceled passport arrived. So Steve's is now at the twelve week timeframe. You just have to shake your head at the inconsistency. 

Jim

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20 hours ago, Out2See said:

Steve and I both needed new passports. We sent in our old passports, new pix, fee and paperwork in mid-April. Even though our photos were taken by the same service at the same time, mine was accepted and his was returned about two weeks later saying it didn't fit their format. So...he resubmitted his application and new pic (received by them May 7) and just got an email yesterday saying that his new book was being printed and would be sent out in a few days. My new passport came mid-June, eight weeks after I submitted it. A few days later, my old, canceled passport arrived. So Steve's is now at the twelve week timeframe. You just have to shake your head at the inconsistency. 

Jim

Had same happen to me on the picture.  No rhyme or reason.  They issued me a 4 year passport instead of a 10 year.   

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Steve's passport arrived this morning and it looks very different from the one I just got. Mine is like my old one with one color picture on the info page. His has a black and white picture on the signature page and a color one with a State Dept hologram over the picture on the opposite side. But it was exactly 10 weeks from acceptance to issue. CBC did a story on this morning about this issue about how backed up it is.

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12 hours ago, PaulMCO said:

Had same happen to me on the picture.  No rhyme or reason.  They issued me a 4 year passport instead of a 10 year.   

I was not aware that they could do that.  What a bummer!  Especially since in takes several months to renew (during which time you don't have a passport) and your passport has to be valid for 6 months after the end of your trip.  It could cut the useful life down to just a little over 2 years, especially if you are going on a world cruise and your expiration date is just under 6 months after your cruise ends.  We had to renew our passports about a year early for a lengthy cruise that did not happen.  Hopefully the processing time will be less by the time we need to renew again.

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1 hour ago, SusieQft said:

I was not aware that they could do that.  What a bummer!  Especially since in takes several months to renew (during which time you don't have a passport) and your passport has to be valid for 6 months after the end of your trip.  It could cut the useful life down to just a little over 2 years, especially if you are going on a world cruise and your expiration date is just under 6 months after your cruise ends.  We had to renew our passports about a year early for a lengthy cruise that did not happen.  Hopefully the processing time will be less by the time we need to renew again.

While the "six months beyond your return" is a generally accepted protocol, most countries accept a passport as long as it has not expired. The exception is the EU where if it is not at least THREE months beyond the expected date of return, you are not allowed entry, period. Found this out the hard way (the change was NOT announced) a few years ago when clients were denied boarding on their flight to Europe.

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  • 1 month later...
On 7/8/2021 at 12:04 AM, TER777 said:

It may be possible to still pay the extra $60 for expedited service. I did so once some years back after experiencing a delay in processing. Good luck!

Haha - Mine came last week, a full 4 weeks for USPS to get it to them and 8 weeks for the processing. Not bad. I tried to get expedited service but had failed, & eventually decided to wait.

 

Thanks again!

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One thing I wanted to mention is if you have along wait on your passport and have a trip coming up and are worried it won't arrive in time this is one of those areas that your House Of Representative Office can actually help get expedited for you.  You can contact them if you are in a bind and more often than not they can get this turned around for you.  In the meantime assume the worst when you apply in terms of turn around time.

 

Keith

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Since I run a United States congressional office, I want to emphasize that it is certainly not true that a representative’’s office can get your passport expedited for any reason other than one of life or death. The backlog is gigantic and the processing times are typically 12 to 18 weeks. In times before this giant backlog, there were avenues that we could take but, the world is different right now. I think it is important that people have accurate information. Our team has been swamped with requests for expedited passports mostly because people didn’t plan ahead and all components of the system are overwhelmed.  It will get better but everyone should plan with these parameters in mind. 

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13 minutes ago, winefoodandsong said:

Since I run a United States congressional office, I want to emphasize that it is certainly not true that a representative’’s office can get your passport expedited for any reason other than one of life or death. The backlog is gigantic and the processing times are typically 12 to 18 weeks. In times before this giant backlog, there were avenues that we could take but, the world is different right now. I think it is important that people have accurate information. Our team has been swamped with requests for expedited passports mostly because people didn’t plan ahead and all components of the system are overwhelmed.  It will get better but everyone should plan with these parameters in mind. 

Thanks for the explanation.  I haven't need help in the last few years so yes I was posting about my own experience from before and it sounds based on what you said this is the way it used to work.

 

All I can tell you is that In prior years our office Congressional office and the one I used to have before moving here many years ago did help us and my friends (several experienced the same) at their offices.  In fact, one told me about this because I needed help.  They helped in two ways.  First getting status when it was very challenging to get the status on your passport and for us when for whatever reason the interval was taking much longer than what is required.  Maybe that has changed so thank you for letting us know.  Like most things in life things change and by the way that includes the challenge of reaching staff for House Members and Senators by phone and not encountering voice mails that are full to the brim.  

 

Since you seem to know things can you please tell me why there is such a backlog?   understand when COVID-19 broke out about the backlog as there was one in other areas such as the IRS?  You would have thought that in time they could have caught up because I would have suspected that many people who under normal circumstances would have applied for passports for the first time to take trips whether that was honeymoons or just vacations didn't.  

 

What is disheartening is that if I read the writeup correctly this legislation was introduced in 2020 so I am assuming nothing was done.  Can't congress do more than pass legislation?  Can't they provide specific funding to go out and hire a bunch of staff to clean this up?  Even 12 weeks is way too long?  I'm only asking hoping you might know.  

 

Personally I think the problem could get worse rather than improve.  

 

Thank goodness applications such as getting on Medicare and collecting Social Security are going a lot better than Passports.  

 

Keith

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There are so many components to this answer.

 

The pandemic rocked the federal government just like it rocked every other segment of the workforce.  Of people in the US who had a job at the beginning of the pandemic, 30% no longer work for the employer they had in March of 2020.  Nearly 50% of millenials have contemplated changing careers durng the pandemic and some acted on that.  Many, many people chose to retire during the pandemic.  All of this led to the devastating workforce shortages with which we are all familiar.  Your suugestion for more funding for finding staff would be a good one if there were workers to be found.  Everywhere I go, I see help wanted signs.  Restaurants, hospitals, manufacturing facilities, schools - everything.

 

For passports specifically, there have been issues with the way passport renewal applications were both received and processed. Because people couldn't travel for a year and a half, they didn't worry about their renewal staus and then the floodgates opened with huge demand and not enough capacity to address it.  We have seen countless policy changes designed to fix problems that have actually ended up gumming up the works.  It is slowly getting better.

 

Keith, as you say, it is usually possible for our teams to get a reliable sense of the status of applications.  There are also some circumstances where, if people can provide proof of essential travel within 72 hours, our teams may be able to get them an appointment at their local passport office if one exists in their area.  (I don't think a Bahamas cruise constitutes essential travel lol).  Hope this helps clarify a bit.

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7 minutes ago, winefoodandsong said:

There are so many components to this answer.

 

Hope this helps clarify a bit.

It does and I very much appreciate the response.  So you don't think a Bahama or Bermuda cruise constitutes essential travel.  For me it does.  LOL.  Thank you again.

 

Keith

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Rather than Speculate or refer to experiences from years past.  Perhaps a current experience might give a better perspective.  I applied for a passport renewal  at the end of March. My previous passport had expired in 2020.   The application was mailed for regular processing but I had forgotten to sign the application.  At the end of April the passport application was returned unprocessed and payment due check uncashed because I had not signed the form.  I signed the form and resubmitted the application for regular (not expedited) processing.  The Passport office acknowledged the receipt of the application and cashed the check at the end of May.  In June the news media and I presume the basis for much of this thread was about the delays in processing the applications.  I finally received my passport in mid August about two weeks ago.

 

A fellow worker in my office also applied for his passport in March and had not received it.  He needed his passport  far more than I as he was going on his Honeymoon in the Caribbean in mid September.  Therefore he expedited his application.  In June he contacted his Congressman to assist in getting the Passport processed.  He received his Passport a week after I received mine.

 

My take from this is.

1. The resolution of the problem is improving not getting worse.

2. That both my and my fellow worker's Passport applications were processed as expeditiously as possible once pressure was put on the department that processes the application by higher ups in the administration.  Perhaps by assigning more personnel to the department, or streamlining the process and eliminating red tape or perhaps by eliminating otherwise prudent parts of the process.

3. That while the individual intervention by applicants might have effected an overall increase in the efficiency of the department by increasing the pressure from the top, it probably had no effect on which individual applicants were processed first. 

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On 7/24/2021 at 8:15 PM, SusieQft said:

I was not aware that they could do that.  What a bummer!  Especially since in takes several months to renew (during which time you don't have a passport) and your passport has to be valid for 6 months after the end of your trip.  It could cut the useful life down to just a little over 2 years, especially if you are going on a world cruise and your expiration date is just under 6 months after your cruise ends.  We had to renew our passports about a year early for a lengthy cruise that did not happen.  Hopefully the processing time will be less by the time we need to renew again.

Passport office can do what they want.  The have the ability to provide what ever length they wish.

Mine is a little more complicated.   I have two passports both expiring near each other.  One a 10 year and other is a 4 year.  They decided for what ever reason was to only give me a 4 year rather than a 10 year, since I was renewing only 1.  Used to travel to some "bad" countries so needed the two (now I do not).  No sense to dwell  -- I do have a 4 year and hopefully the backlog will be through by then 🙂

 

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I mentioned in another post, but I sent my passport for renewal on July 16 and paid for it to be expedited. They received it July 19, cashed my check July 21, and the passport was renewed and back in my hands on Aug. 13 -- just 4 weeks!

 

Now, I could be because I had JUST gone through the Global Entry on July 10th that the process was quicker. (I am thinking in the area of background checks.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

My wife and I are going on 9-19-21 Bermuda cruise from NYC. I booked the cruise the first week of August and then noticed my wife’s passport expired 7-31-21.  
 

Sent passport renewal expedited with expedited return (you need to also add the return overnight postage to the fee) on 8-12-21.  It was received for processing on 8-17-21, it was issues 9-10-21 and came in overnight mail today 9-12-21.  So 30 days expedited with expedited return.  
 

I do admit that in the back of my mind with what I have read I didn’t expect it until November and I was a little worried we would have to got to Houston to appear in person for a renewal, if we didn’t receive it by two weeks before departure.

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1 hour ago, SAT Spurs said:

My wife and I are going on 9-19-21 Bermuda cruise from NYC. I booked the cruise the first week of August and then noticed my wife’s passport expired 7-31-21.  

There is no cruise on the 19th out of NYC to Bermuda. The first one is out of NYC on the 24th.

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7 hours ago, AtA said:

There is no cruise on the 19th out of NYC to Bermuda. The first one is out of NYC on the 24th.

Not what my confirmation says and I already booked my excursions and dinner reservations.  Voyage OCS211119-07.

Edited by SAT Spurs
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18 minutes ago, SAT Spurs said:

Not what my confirmation says and I already booked my excursions and dinner reservations.  Voyage OCS211119-07.

Your cruise is in November not 9-19-21 (September). So in two months.

9 hours ago, SAT Spurs said:

My wife and I are going on 9-19-21 Bermuda cruise from NYC. I booked the cruise the first week of August and then noticed my wife’s passport expired 7-31-21.  

 

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