US embassy emergency passport appointments now only for documented citizens

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The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, March 2019. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90.

The policy change strands Americans with young children who planned to visit the old country for Passover.

 The American embassy in Jerusalem has announced that emergency passport appointments for urgent travel to the United States will only be valid for persons already documented as U.S. citizens.

The change in policy, which took effect Monday, has stranded hundreds of Americans living in Israel with young children who had planned to visit the U.S. over the Passover holiday that begins on the evening of April 5.

“Please understand that for us emergency means the death or illness of a loved one in the United States. It does not mean a trip to bring a new baby to meet their U.S. relatives,” the March 10 embassy announcement that was posted online read.

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The message said that the previous urgent appointment system had to be taken offline because of the sheer number of non-urgent appointment requests, and that there would be no exceptions to the new policy.

The change in policy took U.S. citizens in Israel by surprise, with one online petition against it garnering nearly 3,500 signatures by Wednesday evening.

“With a six-month backlog in Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) appointment bookings, it is next to impossible to obtain a CRBA, rendering hundreds of American families stranded in Israel before Pesach,” she wrote in the petition.

“For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed to be an American citizen.”

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