The United States Department of State announced this week that passport services would gradually reopen in three phases this summer.
According to the State Department’s official website, the agency’s Diplomacy Strong plan will follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a safe reopening for employees and customers.
Government officials revealed that each passport agency and center would open on a different date based on local conditions. The agency said it is experiencing significant delays since employees couldn’t work from home due to strict security and privacy standards.
The State Department is asking for patience as employees gradually resume normal operations and address coronavirus-related processing delays, including handling the backlog of renewal applications sent since March.
“We are committed to working as hard as we can to process applications as quickly as possible, as soon as it is safe for us to do so,” the agency said.
Phase 1 of the reopening will consist of a limited number of employees focused on life-or-death emergencies first, while the second phase will call for the majority of employees to return to work processing applications on a “first come, first served” basis.
All remaining employees will return in Phase 3 and the agency will begin offering expedited processing. The hope from the State Department is the staggered approach will keep employees and customers safe.
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