Some American citizens traveling or living abroad will be able to return to America, even with expired passports. According to a US Department of State memo issued on December 28, this extension is allowed until March 31, 2022.
Passport renewal exemption allowed to some Americans
According to the latest memo, not everyone with an expired passport is eligible to fly back to the United States.
Only those individuals who are already present outside of the country and people who had their passports expire after January 1, 2020, will be covered under this exemption.
Thus, anyone present in the United States already and planning to travel overseas is not facilitated under this exemption of the State Department.
Certain American citizens living or traveling abroad will be able to return to the United States if their passports have expired, according to a US State Department memo. But there are many conditions that apply. https://t.co/27mnPl3CqI
— CNN (@CNN) December 29, 2021
People have to have an original 10-year passport if they want to enjoy the exemption, apart from children under 15, as they can also be eligible for the program with five-year passports.
People in possession of these passports can travel back to America by the end of March 2022; however short layovers are allowed, for some destinations do not have direct flights back to the United States.
This is the second passport-related news coming this week. On December 27, the cost of obtaining passports was increased by $20, which brought it to $130 for obtaining a new 10-year passport.
The Department of State noted in a tweet the price hike was necessary for the department to continue giving safe and secure travel documents to Americans who want to fly.
The State Department says that the increased fee "is necessary to ensure we continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world." https://t.co/p80JTkC8Ye
— ABC News (@ABC) December 28, 2021
Reportedly, the department gave the so-called passport amnesty because the backlog was increasing, due to the surging pandemic. The State Department was unable to bear the burden of new requests for passport renewal.
Officials are facing a backlog of passport renewals
While the website of the State Department informs Americans a passport renewal process can take time between eight and eleven weeks, Americans can pay a $60 fee to accelerate the process.
Government officials also admitted the waiting time for passport renewal increased in the last two years. The deputy assistant secretary for passport services, Rachel Arndt, claimed it was usual for a passport application to take as long as 18 weeks to proceed.
This timeframe included the departmental processing time, application intake process, and the mailing of the final document, according to Arndt.
Arndt even claimed, this summer, the department had almost two million passport applications in process.
Americans whose passports expired after January 1, 2020 had luck, due to the latest announcement. However, those whose documents expired before this date can also apply for emergency passports, just like those whose passports were stolen or lost.
However, these documents will only serve the purpose of one-time travel; those people will have to get their new passport through the usual procedure, once they come back to the United States.
The State Department has advised Americans to stay in touch with their respective embassies or consulate for more specific questions.