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Passport processing times back at pre-pandemic norm: State Department

Passport processing times are back to the pre-pandemic norm following months of criticism over backlogs and long waiting times, the State Department announced Monday.

As of Monday, passport applications are processed within six to eight weeks for routine service and two to three weeks for expedited service, marking a return to the State Department’s benchmark in March 2020, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

A spokesperson for the State Department said the past fiscal year saw an “unprecedented” demand for passports, with the department issuing more than 24 million passport books and cards — the highest in U.S. history.

“We have worked hard to modernize and improve the service we provide to the American people. We will continue to do so in 2024,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding the State Department’s return to the March 2020 benchmark is a reflection of the “work of dedicated employees to the American people.”

The reduction in passport processing times comes after months of demands from congressional members across the aisle to address backlogs and prolonged waiting times. The backlog was created in part by a decrease in passport renewal requests during the COVID-19 pandemic and a later rush for Americans to travel outside of the country.

Senate offices told The Hill last summer they received a wave of calls from constituents requesting help with the documents needed for overseas travel. Some offices said they experienced a nearly fivefold increase in passport cases from 2022 to this year.

Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Ted Lieu (Calif.) in September introduced PASSPORT Act, aimed at streamlining the passport application and renewal process.

Source: The Hill

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