Press Releases

Rice Leads LI Delegation Letter Demanding State Department Block Private Companies from Reserving Appointments at NYC Passport Office

Private passport courier services have been reserving the first-come, first-serve appointments in large blocs and selling them to people in need of immediate service

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Washington, July 12, 2021 | Stuart Malec (202-225-5516) | comments

GARDEN CITY, NY – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04) led a Long Island delegation letter to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs demanding immediate intervention to stop private passport couriers from reserving large blocs of free appointments at the New York City Passport Office for resale to the public, an unsavory business practice aimed at taking advantage of desperate people amidst the surge in demand for passport services as pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted. The bipartisan letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), and Andrew Garbarino (NY-02).

“As we make strides in our fight against COVID-19, our offices have been inundated with constituent requests for help in securing passport service appointments,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “It is completely unacceptable that the integrity of the first-come, first-serve appointment process is being undermined by the predatory business practices of third-party passport courier services. The New York City Passport Office must put an end to this immediately and make their appointments non-transferable and available only to the public.”

The full text of the letter addressed to Ian G. Brownlee, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, can be found below and here.

Dear Mr. Brownlee,

We write to you today regarding a troubling situation at the New York City Passport Office and we are requesting your direct intervention to protect our constituents from an unsavory, third-party business practice.

During some routine casework, a congressional liaison at the New York City Passport Office informed a member of Rep. Rice’s staff that private passport courier services were being allowed to reserve in-person appointments open to the public in large blocs. These couriers are then selling access to these appointments to desperate people who need immediate services to renew passports. We are requesting that the Bureau of Consular Affairs take immediate action to prevent these private couriers from reserving appointments.

We understand that Passport Agencies across the US have been inundated with applications and requests for same-day, in-person appointments. Because these agencies are not working at full strength due to the pandemic, in-person appointments for passport renewal or first-time passport applications are increasingly difficult to come by. The Bureau of Consular Affairs should do whatever it can to protect the integrity of this first-come, first-serve appointment process. Making these appointments available to the public only and designating them as non-transferrable would be a good first step in addressing this issue.

Once again, we would like to urge your direct intervention to protect our constituents from these unscrupulous business practices and make these appointments non-transferrable and available to the public only. If we can be of assistance going forward, please contact Tom Curry in Rep. Rice’s District Office at (202) 505-0424 or tom.curry@mail.house.gov.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

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