U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined together with Union County Chairman Commissioner Sergio Granados, Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, local leaders and New Jersey constituents at the Union County Colleen Fraser Building to encourage New Jerseyans to allow ample time for passport processing given recent unprecedented delays. Earlier today, Sen. Menendez sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State encouraging the Department to explore additional ways to bring wait times down, including by improving the online passport renewal initiative that allowed 500,000 people to successfully apply online for passport renewal since August 2022.
The U.S. State Department has seen unprecedented demand for passports in 2023 with an increase in travel compared to previous years. The Department’s website states that as of March 24th, routine processing times are seven to nine weeks. This timestamp does not include the estimated two weeks applications take to arrive by mail at a passport agency or center, nor does it include the two weeks needed to receive a completed passport in the mail.
“When it comes time to travel overseas for vacation or for a family emergency, many New Jersey residents, and Americans across the country, may not receive their valid passports in the mail on time – despite having paid the additional $60 for expedited service,” said Sen. Menendez. “This is why I’m encouraging the State Department to improve the online passport renewal initiative in an effort to ensure Americans are able to freely travel to other nations – especially with the upcoming busy summer travel season. I also urge New Jerseyans and all Americans to look at their passport expiration dates before booking any travel outside of the United States.”
“Union County has always been a leading international travel hub – from air, railways, sea and roads,” said Union County Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “Overseas travel plays a vital role in our community and while the County continues to work hard to keep the public informed about the delays, and help them prepare their applications – the persistence of long delays has a profound impact on our residents, and on our economy. On behalf of the Union County Board of County Commissioners and the Union County community, we thank Senator Menendez for his efforts to reform the passport application system.”
The Senator’s letter suggests that an improved version of the online passport renewal initiative, that has been suspended since March 8, 2023 after many users voiced difficulties using the site, could offer an avenue to alleviate the excessive wait times.
Sen. Menendez’s New Jersey state office has been inundated with calls from constituents who are confused or panicked about the status of their passport and whether or not they will receive their passports in time before their travel dates. The office has assisted hundreds of constituents in expediting their passport renewals, and in some cases, assisting them in emergency situations.
While the Senator appreciates the efforts made by the Biden Administration to address this issue, including hiring additional adjudicators and support staff as well as Secretary Blinken’s decision to establish a task force in an attempt to speed up the wait times, Sen. Menendez urged more to be done as he remains committed to working with the administration to overcome these delays.