Rep. Meng pushes state department to expedite passport application process

Screenshot 2024-03-12 at 5.23.38 PM
Congresswoman Grace Meng has pushed the state department to expedite the passport application and renewal process.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

After pushing the State Department to address the long wait times associated with passport applications and renewals, Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng says the process is now significantly shorter. 

In 2023, the State Department issued a record 24 million passports after receiving an average of half a million applications each week. The standard processing time was 10-13 weeks, but for those who pay an additional fee for the expedited option, the requests took about 7-9 weeks. 

This lengthy timeline pushed Meng to question Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at a budget hearing about the 2024 fiscal budget, where she advocated for a more efficient and streamlined process for passport applications. 

“I’ve been really alarmed by the extended wait times for U.S passport renewals and visa applications. Every single day in my office… we are receiving frantic calls,” said Meng at the hearing last May. “These extended wait times have placed such a burden on our constituents looking to travel.”

In response, Blinken attributed an increased wait time to the pandemic, which severely decreased the demand for travel and forced them to let go of staff that normally handled the applications. Since demand rebounded, the state department has had to work back to build back the teams and open new offices. 

But since that fiscal hearing last year, processing times have been reduced to 6-8 weeks for regular passport applications and renewals, and 2-3 weeks for the expedited option. 

“Last year, I called on Secretary Blinken to address passport backlogs, and I am happy to see that action has been taken to better facilitate travel and reduce these lengthy wait times,” said Meng in a statement. 

For U.S. citizens who need to travel last minute, Reps. in Congress are able to facilitate passport requests. Last year, Meng’s office helped process over 400 passport requests in cases where constituents needed help booking appointments. 

“Peak travel season is here and families in Queens are preparing to take trips abroad,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Travelers who apply for a new or renewed passport on time or pay for expedited services shouldn’t be forced to alter their plans due to bureaucratic backlogs.”