Schumer wants ’emergency personnel’ to speed up passports and visas

A pandemic passport backlog is causing New Yorkers to cancel honeymoons, skip vacations, miss family celebrations and nix business trips, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.

Speaking alongside frustrated New Yorkers whose travel plans could be thwarted by long passport waits, Schumer said the State Department must bring on emergency personnel to speed things up.

“My office has been deluged with people who’ve been planning their vacation, who have reservations, who have tickets — and have waited weeks and even months to get passports and visas,” Schumer said.

“New Yorkers are missing weddings, they’re missing business trips, they’re missing birthdays, they’re missing reunions with loved ones they haven’t seen in a year-and-a-half.”

Passport Agencies across the US have been plagued by lines and hours-long waits as Americans seek to travel abroad in bigger numbers than any time since COVID-19.

But the State Department is still operating under some pandemic staff restrictions — causing unusually long delays for would-be travelers, The Post reported this month.

People waiting in line outside at the New York Passport Agency in New York City on July 8, 2021.
People waiting in line outside at the New York Passport Agency in New York City on July 8, 2021.
James Keivom

The Senate Majority Leader said he understood that the State Department was overwhelmed by a COVID-induced backlog — but insisted officials do more to hasten the process.

“These folks and tens of thousands of others, and maybe 100,000, handed in their paperwork, and now they’re in what we call passport purgatory,” Schumer said.

Before the pandemic, would-be travelers could go in-person to get their passports in as little as three days before traveling.

With that option off the table, the wait for a new or renewed passport in the mail is now 18 weeks — double what it was pre-COVID.