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Delays With US Passport Renewal and Issuance – What to Do

What’s going on with passport issuance delays?

🇺🇸American citizens are experiencing huge delays in all the 50 states with the process of getting their American passports renewed. That’s right. People are ready to travel. They were home for almost two years because of COVID. They were in quarantine. Everybody was being good, social distancing, staying at home. People are getting vaccinated and they’re finally feeling brave enough to travel internationally, plus some countries have opened up for American travelers that haven’t opened before. This is something recent that many European countries have now allowed Americans to come and visit.

📄People are opening up their American passports after the purchase of a flight, and just now noticing that their US passports are expired. They run to the agency to try to get the passports on the urgent emergency basis, and they’re getting turned away because the lines to go without an appointment for an in-person walk-in appointments is outrageous, especially in the New York area where I live. Philadelphia is reporting the same thing. The lines are around the block and people are getting turned away because the US passport agency here in New York (and the ones in Philadelphia) are very short-staffed. So people are reporting in different states, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, that to get an appointment for a US passport agency, it’s impossible to reach somebody on the phone is impossible. Once in a while, they do get through and they’re told different conflicting things, sometimes untrue information. 

How do I know if I need to get my passport renewed?

This is for people who are getting their passport for the first time, like children who are new US citizens (naturalized immigrants who became citizens) and people who are noticing that their passport is expired and they need to travel, whether it’s for vacation or to see family overseas.

How long are the passport delays right now, in 2021?

☝Realistically speaking, right now, it’s taking everyone about 12 weeks to receive a new passport. If you mail it away. Even if you ask for expedited passport processing, which you can pay for, and there’s a fee for that (the US department of state charges extra, to make it quicker), even then it could take them up to 12 weeks, and they can’t promise an urgently issued passport. Even at those 12 weeks, the US public is experiencing what we been experiencing with USCIS and the department of state immigration applications. The same thing, the backlog is astounding. Right now, there’s 1 million pending US passport applications.

What do I do? I have a family emergency but my passport is expiring/expired! Can I get a same-day passport?

📂The US department of state is telling people that if you do have a life or death situation and you bring your application, all of the documents that are requested to support your US passport application and the proof of the life or death emergency in writing, they will issue you a passport, but it’s going to take about three days. You used to be able to get on the spot or the same date. I’ve done that before. There is not currently an option for a same-day passport issuance or passport renewal. Again, if you do have a life or death or illness type of an emergency that you have to travel for, you need to have documented proof. If it’s your mom, you should have a birth certificate to show that that’s your mom and the medical letter from the country showing that your mom in that country is sick and you need to go see her. That’s what you need to prove their relationship to whoever you’re going to go to. And so on. If you have a wedding or something like that, they might accept that as an urgent reason or not; it depends.

Can I get my passport renewed or issued another way?

At this time, I do not recommend using special agencies in other states to get you a passport. I think it’s a waste of time at this time because of the crazy backlog. I don’t think the agent is going to be able to get you anything much faster than you can get for yourself. The passport agency, where you can go for a walk-in appointment or a regular appointment, doesn’t have to be where you live. 

But, if you’re willing to drive, I believe right now, Vermont is just basically taking in walk-ins, and I know it’s not closed for people on this coast from like New York or Philadelphia, but at least, you know you can be seen that day and you can get an urgent passport in three days in Vermont. In New York, the lines on Hudson street are around the block, amazing and long. I recommend, if you do plan to visit the New York passport agency, you get there at like four in the morning and you get in line. I believe you’re not going to be the first one there. You’ll see.

What paperwork do I need for my passport? What documents do I need to take with me?

🗂You must bring all of the paperwork. You need to bring to password size photos, your old passport, if you renewing. If you lost your passport, they might ask you for a police report of the loss. If you are a new US citizen (and you’re naturalized), you have to bring your naturalization certificate. You should probably bring your old passport, other picture IDs that you have as proof of who you are. Another thing that people are reporting is that when you send away your passport application, it might take about three to four weeks. Don’t be afraid if the electronic system shows that your application is pending or processing, because they’re even delayed with processing that. The way it generally works is you send your application to the national passport center, they process it, and then they send it to a local office for issuing the passport.

When should I start the passport issuance/renewal process?

📝If your passport is expiring in the next six months, you should file the renewal right now. What you can do is you can look up on the line, what US post office near you accepts passport applications in person. It’s probably the best thing to do because you’ll get to see a physical human being. In person, you can apply. You also can go on the website and download the application for the U S passport. Make sure you get the right form because there’s different forms for the first time applicants versus renewals, fill that out, attach copies of whatever documents they need, and send that away. Or, you can go to the post office and submit it in person. And if you do go, you can ask questions: how long it’s going to take, what you should do. And so on.

Why are passports delayed?

Keep in mind that the US post office generally with mail and everything else is also very delayed because of COVID. People are just slowly coming back to working physically in person at the office who weren’t working. During quarantine, some of them were working from home. All of this is causing chaos and havoc with a us passport. I think in another two or three months, things should get back to normal.

✈️Be careful and good luck with your travels. I wish you lots of health and luck. If you guys know anybody who needs an immigration attorney, we work with people all over the United States and all the 50 states, our specialties are abuse visas, asylum, any denials we can appeal, anything really complicated, we’ll be happy to help and fix and get approved and get more of those US citizens out there to vote!

Wait – I need a passport to vote?

What do passports have to do with voting? Remember, you cannot vote unless you are a US citizen. You must be a US citizen to vote. It’s a crime and you’ll get denied for your citizenship if you vote with only a green card. But if you are you a citizen, remember to vote.

Call us today if you are ready to move on to the next phase of your life. We can help!

Shepelsky Law Group
Tel: (718) 769-6352
2415 Avenue U,  Ste. 2 Rear
Brooklyn, NY 11229