Schumer Urges State Dept. to Hire ‘Emergency Personnel,’ Clear Passport Backlog

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Sunday urged the State Department to bring in “emergency personnel” to clear the passport backlog of three-plus months.
The State Department said Wednesday that the wait for a passport is now between 12 weeks and 18 weeks, even if you pay for expedited processing. That’s because of ripple effects from the coronavirus pandemic that caused extreme disruptions to the process at domestic issuance facilities and overseas embassies and consulates.
“My office has been deluged with people who’ve been planning their vacation, who have reservations, who have tickets — and have waited weeks and even months to get passports and visas,” Schumer said during a press conference in New York.
“New Yorkers are missing weddings, they’re missing business trips, they’re missing birthdays, they’re missing reunions with loved ones they haven’t seen in a year-and-a-half.”
Traveler Cindy Sundersingh told reporters she has not received a response on the status of her passport application.
“We were really looking forward to going. It’s the trip of a lifetime for them. I’m just hoping that after a tough year for everyone, we can do this,” Sundersingh said.
“My office has been deluged with people who have been planning their vacation, who have reservations, who have tickets, and have waited weeks and even months to get passports and visas. So today, we are calling on the State Department to put some more emergency personnel in those two areas,” Schumer said.
A department official says a backlog of 1.5 million to 2 million passport requests means that applications submitted now probably will not be processed until the fall.
Rachel Arndt, deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services, said the department is increasing COVID-19-reduced staffing throughout the United States as pandemic restrictions are eased. But she said Americans needing to apply for or renew a passport should do so at least six months ahead of when they plan to travel.
“We really encourage folks to apply for or renew their passport at least six months ahead of when you’ll need one to avoid any of those last-minute problems,” she told reporters.
via newsmax

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