U.S. Government Visa Delays Are Worse Than Anyone Imagined

There are startlingly lengthy lines for U.S. citizens trying to renew their passports before summer vacations.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs has released a statement indicating that the State Department may handle ordinary applications within 10 to 13 weeks after filing, while expedited applications take 7 to 9 weeks. The agency also cautioned that it might take up to two weeks for the State Department to receive postal applications and another two weeks to return a completed passport to its owner.

When lockdown measures and vaccination requirements throughout the globe reduced the availability of foreign travel, employees entrusted with processing passport applications have seen “record demand.” 

The Bureau of Consular Affairs said that their passport team members nationally commit tens of thousands of hours of overtime every month to meet the demand for passports from American travelers. Because of the overwhelming quantity of applicants, we have established a branch office.

The months leading up to summer vacation are peak passport application times.

According to the United States Travel Association, travel spending in the United States climbed by 9% between February 2022 and February 2023 and 5% between February 2019 and February 2023, meaning that spending has returned to pre-recession levels. Although domestic tourism increased somewhat from the previous month, international tourism was 31% lower than in February 2019.

The State Department just finished a pilot program to renew passports online, and they are now making adjustments in preparation for a full rollout later this year. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that the number of passport applications received by his department has increased by 30% to 40% year over year, reaching 500,000 weekly.

The lockdown-induced recession reduced workers across all industries, pushing inflation as businesses struggled to function and raise wages to stay competitive. Over 2.1 million federal workers would get a raise of 4.1% overall and 0.5% on average, depending on region, as revealed by President Joe Biden.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States government spent over $215 billion on salaries and benefits for civilian federal workers in the fiscal year 2016.