If you’re planning to travel internationally in 2023 and need a U.S. passport, be prepared for an unexpected journey into the passport application nightmare.

The U.S. passport application system is overloaded. As global travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels, a backlog of passport applications is causing frustration among both travelers and passport offices.

As of July, the State Department says they receive more than 400,000 applications each week, on track to exceed the previous’s year’s record of 22 million passports issued. 

The hopeful travelers who’ve submitted their applications are awaiting their passports to come in 10-13 weeks, according to the State Department’s official website. As they planned their trips, purchased the flight tickets, and booked their vacation accommodations, the anticipation of their passport arrival turns into anxiety and uncertainty. 

The processing time right now has exceeded the routine time suggested on the official website. U.S. officials have also acknowledged the problem, attributing the delays to staffing shortages and the suspension of online processing. 

For urgent cases, such as those involving ‘life-or-death’ situations or short-term travel, the agencies prioritize processing. However, for the majority of applicants, options are limited and costly. 

Some applicants have to cancel or postpone their trips, which causes not only financial losses but also disappointment for their families.

The situation is equally challenging for U.S. visa applications for international travelers and Americans abroad. 

At the U.S. consulate in New Delhi, people are expecting to wait  450 days for a visa interview; in Sao Paulo, it could be more than 600 days; in Bogota Colombia, it was 800 days. 

In Israel, there are more than 200,000 people with dual citizenship of both Israel and the U.S., and the process for them to visit the U.S. has been complicated due to limited appointment quotas and restrictive requirements.

As the world is recovering from the hit of the pandemic, the travel system still needs time to improve and adjust to the new era. 

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