About the Author: Jim Theis serves in the Bureau of Consular Affairs as the Director of the Buffalo Passport Agency.
Foreign Service Officers usually spend their careers traveling the world with occasional tours in Washington, D.C. However, I've been given a special assignment: Director of Passport Services' newest passport facility in Buffalo, New York. After adventures in places as far-flung as El Salvador and Romania, I find it a real honor to come to Buffalo. And, as a native of South Dakota, I'm ready for some cold weather.
As Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy said at today's opening ceremony, the Buffalo Passport Agency will provide greater convenience and service for communities throughout Western New York, including on-site issuance to customers with emergency travel. Western New York has a history of cross-border commerce with Canada and includes some of our busiest border crossings. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security reported that more than four million Americans traveled from Canada to the United States at ports of entry in Buffalo in Fiscal Year 2009. This newest passport agency is well-suited to facilitate travel and trade between the two countries.
The Buffalo Passport Agency, which has created more than 25 new jobs, was one of several passport facilities made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- the "federal stimulus" bill. This Agency and others slated to open over the next year are key elements in the Department's overall efforts to facilitate international travel.
More than 101 million Americans have U.S. passports -- about one-third of our population. And with the opening of the Buffalo Passport Agency, our 24th domestic passport facility, we hope to make travel simpler and easier for even more U.S. citizens in Buffalo and the surrounding region.
For more information about passports and visas, please visit travel.state.gov.