Passport delays left thousands of Americans with needles and needles. We hear from some of you who have waited months to get passports when it used to take weeks. Our KPRC 2 Consumer Team investigates the bureaucratic backlog and receives answers.
Before the COVID pandemic, the average waiting time after submitting the passport application was six to eight weeks. Now the US State Department says it can take up to 18 weeks (four and a half months) to get your passport back! With more families traveling, you can imagine this giving a lot of people a huge headache!
Lisa Martinez-Heitman is the proud mother of her daughter, who got engaged in January. She was hoping to attend her wedding in Mexico but is struggling to update her passport.
“Somebody has to be able to help me resolve this. I can’t stand the thought of not making it to my daughter’s wedding, ”said Lisa Martinez-Heitman.
Lisa was newly married herself and sent her old passport and a name change request to match her plane ticket.
“At the time I sent all of this in, the lead time was 10 to 12 weeks. So I figured that after 16 weeks I should be fine, shouldn’t be a problem. Everything should be great, ”said Lisa.
Her first indication that all was not going well was more than two months later. The State Department sent a letter in late May asking Lisa to retake one of the passport photos she had sent. She hurried to get it back with Priority Mail. But after that all updates about the process were stopped. Getting through by phone was almost impossible.
“But I would push the button to get into the right area. And once you know he was going to get that line, it would just be a quick busy signal. And then it would just hang up, ”said Lisa.
Regional passport offices that usually accept walk-ins are only available by appointment.
“Appointments were not available in Louisiana, Dallas, Houston,” Lisa said. “I checked the Laredo site, looked everywhere I could to find an available date.”
Just a week before the wedding, Lisa was emailing every elected MP she could. Congressman Troy Nehls replied.
“There are so many people who are frustrated about this,” said Rep, Troy Nehls. “Many of them are looking for passports and trying to ask our office for help. We were successful with some; and there were some with whom we weren’t so successful. “
Representative Nehl’s employees found Lisa’s passport. She got her passport within an hour of her flight on Friday. But finding answers to the causes of the backlog is not that easy. The website seems to imply that COVID-19 is still causing the delays.
Let this be your warning to submit your passport application at least six months before traveling abroad if you know you will need it that far. Contact your US representative if you need assistance. You can find your representative by entering your address here.
If Nehls is your representative, click here: Nehls.house.gov. Navigate to “Services” and click on “Help with a federal agency”.
A man who waited almost 4 months eventually got a US State Department phone number that he says didn’t keep him on hold for hours. The number: (603) 427-3100.
The U.S. Department of State’s Consular Office provides expedited service for life or death emergencies and urgent travel. You need to qualify and, in some cases, make an appointment. There is a checklist of what you need to know before going to your nearest passport office.
We have had questions from people who have mailed their passports and are waiting for their return. Some wonder if they have a copy of the passport along with a copy of the papers, could they travel? The answer: No, you cannot travel abroad without a valid passport. Photocopies are not accepted.
You must apply in person using a DS-11 form, but only if you also meet one of the following requirements:
You are applying for your first US passport
You are under 16
Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under 16 years old
Your previous US passport has been lost, stolen, or damaged
Your previous US passport was issued more than 15 years ago
You can find more information about this process at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/apply-in-person.html
You can check the application status of your passport online or by phone. You will need the following information:
Include suffixes (e.g. Jones III, Patton Jr., etc.)
Include hyphens if necessary (e.g. Jackson-Smith)
Date of birth (mm / dd / yyyy)
The last four digits of the social security number
You can access the online passport status system here.
Call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 (TDD / TTY) to speak with a customer service representative (Se habla español ) Speaking: 00pm Eastern Time (excluding bank holidays).
There are reasons for a passport application to be rejected and some of the errors can be common. Errors include: incomplete application, wrong photo, insufficient proof of citizenship, incorrect payment, you owe child benefit, you owe tax back payments or you have an unpaid federal loan.
A toll-free telephone number is available to answer any questions. The number is (877) 487-2778 and a representative is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, excluding holidays.
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