Schumer calls for personnel shift to help with massive passport backlog

Local News

New Yorkers are ready to fly the coop.

They are newly vaccinated and are looking to travel and enjoy the summer, but if their passport expired during the pandemic, that trip may be postponed. According to the State Department, the wait for a new passport is up to 18 weeks.

Cindy Sundersingh, a South Bronx teacher, is scheduled to go to Portugal on Aug. 1 with her daughters.

“Now we are stuck,” Sundersingh said Sunday.

Her passport expired, and she is worried she won’t be able to get a new one in time.

“We are all looking forward to going. So, this is a trip of a lifetime for them,” she said.

This is not an isolated incident. As PIX11 News first reported last week, desperate New Yorkers waited outside the passport agency on Hudson Street trying to get passports and visas. But without an appointment, you can’t get inside.

Leisure trips aren’t the only ones affected. People are trying to see sick relatives and have long awaited family reunions. As of now, the State Department will only allow last-minute passport appointments for people who have international travel plans within three days. But those appointments are scarce and almost impossible to get.

“The State Department has been so backlogged because of COVID. People didn’t apply for any visas and any passports while COVID happened and now there is a deluge, and they don’t have the personnel to do it,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.

Sen. Schumer said he has asked the secretary of state for help.

“And I don’t understand why they can’t do more. They have very good, trained personnel and all they have to do is shift several hundred over to this division on a temporary basis and make the backlog go away,” Schumer said.

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