May 22, 2024

Westside People

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In the United States, lengthy and expensive Stations of the Cross to renew your passport

In the United States, lengthy and expensive Stations of the Cross to renew your passport

Applying for a passport renewal in the US has become an administrative nightmare as international travel resumes as borders reopen after the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Nile Cove, 20, came specially to New York, 2,600 km from Houston, where he lives, to pick up his passport in time to catch a flight to London a few hours later, some of which are intense.

Before leaving his father managed to get him a meeting with the extremists. “I don’t know how he did it,” the young man exults as he leaves the passport office, where he must return at 5pm to pick up the sesame seeds in time for his flight.

In front of the administration building, dozens of people wait their turn, some after the death of a loved one or having to rush abroad for a business trip that is not in the game on their days off.

According to David Alwadish, co-founder of itseasy.com – a company that handles administrative procedures such as passport renewal – the difficulties faced are linked to a combination of factors.

“It seems like all the Americans have decided to renew their passports and travel at the same time,” he told AFP, “in forty years, I’ve never seen that.”

To this extreme in post-pandemic demands was added the installation of a new IT system dedicated to online updates, which did not meet security requirements and therefore had to be temporarily suspended.

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The State Department estimated last March that it would take 10 to 13 weeks to renew or apply for a new passport, or 7 to 9 weeks with the expedited process for an additional $60. Twice as late as before the pandemic.

Since the start of the year, an average of 500,000 requests have been filed each week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told a congressional panel, or 30% more than in 2022, but a record year when 22 million passports were issued.

The “unprecedented request” comes as the ministry has had to “rebuild” a service that was completely dismantled during the pandemic, with staff reassigned to other administrative tasks, Mr. Blinken agreed.

Therefore, the State Department encourages citizens to “check and renew their document’s validity date” well in advance of their planned departure.

Mr. Alvadish recalls.

In order to get a passport in one day, some Americans do not hesitate to use the services of private companies and pay several hundred dollars for an appointment, even $2,500 for the entire procedure. You are normally free.

People who can’t pay face long lines like Linda, 46, who started the process for her and her family in April.

“We got June in the mail, but we didn’t get our kids’ babies,” she explained the day before they left for the Caribbean island of Aruba.

“It didn’t happen like that before,” she regrouped.

For Antony Blinken, salvation may come from the online service, which he believes will be able to process at least 60% of requests once operational.