There are significant updates on USA passport services as of September 28, 2020. COVID-19 has impacted the availability of passport service for seven months, and remains a source of delays.
Since March 31, the US Department of State had posted a worldwide level 4 (do not travel) travel advisory. After 128 days, that blanket travel advisory has been lifted. Simultaneously, the CDC has lightened its travel notice levels for much of the world. But, with COVID-19 levels in the USA, some countries may be less enthusiastic to receive US residents.
How we're born has an enormous impact on the access we have to the rest of the world. Where we're born might seem completely left up to chance but it opens or closes doors to our future.
The US Department of State continues to work through passport applications as some agencies enter phase 2 of reopening. Many agencies remain shuttered or at very limited capacity, but this is partially offset by fewer passport applications as citizens choose to stay home this travel season.
Passport processing, except for life-and-death emergencies, was suspended mid-March. Now some passport processing centers and agencies are reopening and expanding capacity. There is still a backlog, passports processing remains lengthy, and expedited processing is still unavailable.
Nonessential travelers to Europe will be welcomed from July 1, but only from certain countries or for special purposes. The good news? Study abroad students from the US will be permitted.
On the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, on Sunday, June 28, 1970, organizers planned Christopher Street Liberation Day with the first gay pride march. Over 50 years, we have seen waves of greater tolerance, not only in New York and across the USA, but also in many countries abroad. New laws over the last 20 years have made Europe the most LGBTQ-friendly region and a welcoming group of countries for study abroad students.
Not every country has seen the shifts in attitude we've witnessed in Norway and Ireland and the Netherlands, but far-flung countries like Argentina, New Zealand, and even Mexico City have become more friendly destinations for our students in recent years.
The US Dept of State is "moving to Phase 1 of resuming routine passport operations at eleven passport agencies and centers on Thursday, June 11." All Western passport agencies and centers remain shuttered.
The US Dept of State "continue[s] to experience significant delays in passport processing, as staff are unable to process applications from home due to strict standards for security and privacy protection for customers." They hope to "gradually resume normal operations and address COVID-19 related processing delays."
A simple chart showing that which has caused study abroad advisors like me to lose sleep and be anxious.