US Embassy acknowledges shortage of consular services in Israel, vows to step them up

The US Embassy in Jerusalem admits it has been falling short in addressing a growing need for consular services for US citizens in Israel due to coronavirus-related obstacles, and says it has expanded its services and is making efforts to “develop creative solutions” to expand them further.

Here is the statement released by the embassy, in full:

Supporting U.S. citizens abroad remains our top priority. U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and Embassy Branch Office (EBO) Tel Aviv are working hard to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Embassy is required to adhere to Israeli Ministry of Health and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines affecting the number of people who can enter our facility. As a result, the U.S. Embassy has been offering a limited amount of services while demand for services has continued to rise. We are aware that many U.S. citizens are seeking consular services, and we are making every effort to develop creative solutions to allow more U.S. citizens to obtain essential services.

We have reorganized our processing so that we can increase appointments while maintaining the required social distancing. Our top priority is to process more emergency passports, first-time and minor renewal passports (DS-11), and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs), which are services that require in-person appointments. In March, we issued 51% more passports and 31% more CRBAs than in February. We anticipate continuing growth in the number of applicants we can help in the coming months.

To ensure that space is available for those who need to see us in person, applicants who are eligible to receive their services by mail will be required to do so by mail. Mail in services are quick and easy! The following services can be conducted via mail: replacing a 10-year validity passport using form DS-82; replacing an emergency passport using form DS-5504; applying for a first-time Social Security Number for applicants under the age 12 using form SS-5; and replacing Social Security Cards for applicants of any age using form SS-5.

Applicants in need of other services, such as notaries, may use alternatives such as Israeli notaries and U.S.-based online notaries, which are offered in many U.S. states.

This has been a long and difficult journey, and the U.S. Embassy appreciates the patience of U.S. citizens in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Though we remain subject to both U.S. and Israeli health guidelines, we will continue to find solutions to provide consular services for U.S. citizens.”

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