Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes (D-District 4) helped a couple from Bridgeport obtain a passport that would allow them to travel to Jamaica for their honeymoon. Stephanie Yanez and Darryl Shine, who were married on July 25, 2021, waited for many months for Shine to receive a passport so they could travel to Jamaica on July 27 for their honeymoon. Although they applied for passport renewals in April 2021 when they were told the wait time was between eight and 10 weeks, Shine’s passport was delayed because of a huge backlog, and while Yanez had hers, he was still waiting after three months.
The United States Department of State reported having to deal with a backlog of some two million passports, which is causing the wait time for processing to be about 18 weeks. As more countries open to tourists following the COVID-19 shutdown, there is a veritable surge of US citizens who want to travel, which puts pressure on passport authorities. In addition, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has not been brought up to its full staffing levels as yet.
According to Congressman Himes, the backlog is the result of an increase in travel by individuals who could not travel in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Himes thanked his staff for their help in pushing Shine’s passport through the required channels. Yanez and Shine married on schedule and were able to leave for their Jamaican honeymoon two days after their marriage ceremony as planned due to the intervention of Congressman Himes. Even passport seekers who are willing to pay an extra fee to receive expedited service must wait 12 weeks for their passports.
Himes says the demand for passports is currently higher than it has ever been, while the ability to process the higher number of applications has been compromised. He added that he had heard from many of his constituents about this “serious problem,” and he urged everyone to be patient and to remember that passports involve national security matters, and “not just filling out a form and taking a picture.”
The Congressman cautioned other people who want to travel overseas that the huge backlog in passport processing remains a challenge. Therefore, he advises those who plan to travel in the late summer or fall months this year to make sure they have valid passports and if not to get their applications submitted immediately to avoid problems.
Photos: Stephanie Yanez Facebook