It appears things are not running smoothly when it comes to American citizens renewing their passports at the Jerusalem embassy or the Tel Aviv consulate, according to the embassy website. The time from application to delivery is currently six to eight weeks, and the website stresses that this should be used only as a guide, which is why “We recommend you don’t make non-refundable travel plans until you have your new passports.” The embassy website also advises: “We strongly encourage you to apply well in advance of your travel to allow time for delivery of your documents,” because “Processing times for all services are approximate.”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Republican Congressman Chris Smith, representing New Jersey’s 4th district which has a large Jewish constituency, including the town of Lakewood, have been urging the State Dept. to improve embassy services to Americans living in Israel, especially since it appears now that the embassy created new roadblocks for Israeli-American families seeking documents for their newborn children, so they can travel to the US (Schumer ‘Working’ on Solving Block on US Passports for Newborns in Israel).
According to the embassy, beginning on March 10, emergency travel documents will only be granted to documented US citizens, which excludes the newly born.
Seven US Congress members on Thursday sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of State Naz Durakoğlu requiring answers about the staffing crisis at the embassy in Israel which makes it impossible for families with small infants to register them as US citizens so they can travel with the parents to meet their families in America this Passover.
Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Pat Ryan (D-NY), Marcus Molinaro (R-NY), and Yvette Clark (D-NY), complained to Durakoğlu that their constituents are frustrated with “the US Citizen Services provided in Israel.”
The lawmakers continued: “These Americans are having trouble making appointments, as walk-ins are unavailable and appointment times are few and far between. One particularly frequent complaint has been regarding delays related to passport and consular report of birth abroad (CRBA) applications. Despite being US citizens, these Americans are waiting in some cases months in order to see basic requests fulfilled.”
The seven bipartisan Congress members enclosed the following questions:
“How many pending requests are there at U.S. State Department offices in Israel? How does this compare to other countries? What, if any, measures are being taken to address this backlog of requests?
“What is the typical wait time for passport and CRBA services in Israel? How does this compare to other countries?
“How many foreign-service officers work on US Citizen Services in Israel, and how does this compare to other countries? With upwards of 500,000 Americans in Israel, should the State Department reassess staffing levels at the Embassy in Jerusalem and at the Consulate in Tel Aviv?”
Incidentally, while Israelis with dual citizenship must wait at least six weeks for their passport renewals and even longer to register their infants as US citizens, Israelis who are not American citizens are waiting a year and more to apply for visas to the US, and Israel has seen a whole new industry of specialists who promise to speed up their visa application process for a handsome fee. So, like it or not, somebody is making money on these insane delays.
H/T to collive.com for the original report on the lawmakers’ letter.