VAN NUYS (CBSLA) — Hundreds of people Sunday lined the streets outside the Van Nuys post office for a passport fair.
The individuals had lined up waiting to renew or obtain passports. The post office planned to accept applications from about 500 walk-ins, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.READ MORE: First Weekend Eligible Adults Can Receive Pfizer's COVID-19 Booster Shot
However, the doors opened about two hours early when workers saw the huge turnout, which included people who started waiting the previous night, some even brought their newborns.
“If we’re unable to get to everybody that’s in line at that time, we will be handing out numbers and doing everything we can to set them up for appointments, “Jonathan Castillo, USPS Business Network Representative, said.
The passport fair aimed to assist in an effort to reduce the backlog of applications.
At the federal building in Westwood, similarly long lines could be seen this week.
Carlota Castillo made it through the process about five hours after she got in line.
“For me, I got really tired. I had to lean, like, on a tree or on the wall,” she said.
Adan Mena said he’s waited longer for rides at amusement parks. He arrived at 7 a.m. thinking that he probably wouldn’t get a chance to apply.READ MORE: Man Shot And Killed By Huntington Police Saturday As Nearby U.S. Open Of Surfing Was Underway
“…but clearly I was wrong,” Mena said.
The Post Office said more fairs will be available in the coming days to serve the high demand after the State Department shutdown the agency’s appointment booking site.
“For the past three to four months, I haven’t been able to get an appointment,” Lizeth Rodriguez said.
Third party actors have been using bots to book all available online appointments. Some are even selling for as high as $3,000 to applicants with urgent travel needs.
Maria Salazar didn’t think she was going to need to travel, though unfortunately her sister fell ill and she really wants to see her.
The national passport service center says from this point, it’ll take up to 18 weeks for folks to get their passports with regular service and up to about 12 weeks with expedited service.
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