Connolly requests plan to reduce passport processing backlog
“I write to express deep concern that the Department of State has essentially halted all routine passport processing and that plans to address the growing backlog of passport applications are insufficient,” said Connolly.
“While I understand that the coronavirus pandemic has introduced significant challenges to the State Department’s normal operating procedures, and I appreciate that the Department is undertaking efforts to keep its employees safe, the Department must also develop plans to resume the routine processing of passport applications to prevent the already sizable backlog from becoming unmanageable. Our passport specialists need to be able to do their job, and do it safely with sufficient personal protective equipment, social distancing, and access to ongoing testing.”
On March 19, the State Department paused the passport application process and stopped taking new applications due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the State Department website, “If you apply or renew now, you will experience significant delays of several months to receive your U.S. passport and the return of your citizenship evidence documents (such as birth certificates or naturalization certifications).”
This delay has already created a backlog of 1.6 million applications, and that number is only growing by the day. Effective March 20, passport agencies and centers are only offering service to customers who have a life-or-death emergency.
At present, only approximately 100 employees (out of 4,000 employed by passport agencies) are currently processing applications.
“I urge you to examine the phased reopening plan and please respond to me with the goals and timelines that will ensure that the Department is employing all available resources to reduce the backlog in passport applications and resume routine processing as soon as possible, while maintaining a safe environment for employees amidst the coronavirus pandemic,” Connolly said.
The full letter follows and is available here.