Some American citizens living or traveling abroad will be able to return to the United States even if their passports have expired, according to a U.S. State Department memo issued on December 28.
Eligible citizens who fall under specific criteria will be able to return to their home country before March 31 2022, on expired passports.
A number of conditions apply – these include:
- Citizens who are currently abroad and returning to the United States (not leaving the country and going elsewhere) whose passports expired after January 1, 2020.
- The passport must have been an original 10-year validity passport (exception apply for those who were 14 or younger and issued 5-year validity passports)
- Short layovers are permitted, but citizens must be physically in the United States or a United States territory before the end of March 2022.
The news comes as the cost of obtaining a new 10-year passport rose by $20, from $110 to $130. A state department spokesperson defended the move saying, “The increased fee is necessary to ensure we continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world.”
Why are expired passports being accepted?
The most likely reason for the move is a backlog in passport renewals resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The typical turnaround time, as stated by the State Department, is around 8-11 weeks, unless expedited. In recent times however, this wait has increased significantly, to as long as 18 weeks for both first-time and renewal applications – leaving many without a valid passport for travel.
Are you worried about your pending visa or first-time passport application? Get in touch to arrange a consultation with someone from our team today!
© Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC 2021. The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.