When coronavirus was declared a worldwide pandemic in March, much of the travel world, including the processing of official travel documents, was put on “pause.” Applications still came in, but offices closed on March 19 and the only thing you could get was a passport for a “life or death” situation. You couldn’t even get your representative in Congress to intervene.
Welp, the U.S. government is finally allowing employees back into offices so they can process the backlog of thousands upon thousands of applications and renewals. Here’s the plan:
We had reported a few weeks back that there was a backlog of 1.6 million passports that needed to be processed. That number is now 1.7 million.
Fourteen passport processing centers reopened on June 15. Employees are working on the backlog of applications but due to the needs for social distancing, it’s not yet a full staff. They’re working on applications in a first-come, first-served order – so applications received in February, and then March, will get processed first.
With officials’ hopes to process roughly 200,000 applications per week, they think they should be done with the backlog in about 8 weeks. Once they’re caught up, they can work on new applications – so if that’s what you’re waiting for, expect delays of 2-3+ months (which, frankly, was a much better estimate than I was thinking, with almost 2 million backlogged).
Passports for “life or death” situations can still be obtained, but expedited services for passports are still not available at this time.
Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers still aren’t open and won’t be until at least July 6.
If you’re applying for Global Entry, officials say the fastest way to get it done at this time is to apply for conditional approval via their website and then complete the process at a participating airport upon returning from international travels.
Heads up that conditional approval can take anywhere from fifteen days to 5 months (!!!) to receive. If you want to book an interview after July 6 instead of walking in after travels abroad, heads up that demand is expected to be high and chances are it will be difficult to get an appointment.
Global Entry applicants who are conditionally approved are usually allowed up to one year to complete their interview for enrollment, but U.S. Customs & Border Protection recently extended that window to 485 days (roughly 16 months).
If you already have Global Entry and just need to renew, if you do that before your current enrollment expires, you’ll get an 18-month extension, instead of the usual 6 months.
Residents of New York are still not eligible to apply for, or renew Global Entry membership, due to the freeze by the current federal administration. 🙁
Good news! The TSA PreCheck program was not closed down for the pandemic, so there are only minimal, if any, delays or backlogs. Processing usually takes about 2-3 weeks.
H/T: N.Y. Times
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 13,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary