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Globe-trotting Longhorns get help with travel documents at Passport Services

Passport for the Hook 'Em mascot
Illustration by Sara Kinney

You get the full luxury passport experience here.

Nicholas Jimenez

A slight buzz from the air conditioning dances with the light chatter that fills the small room in the Main Building where Passport Services has been temporarily relocated. Cubicles circle the space, and people enter with documents in their hands as they prepare for vacations or trips to study abroad.

In 2008, Larry Phu, then the director of finance and administration for the International Office, and Heath Roberie, recently hired as Texas Global’s chief financial and administrative officer, opened an acceptance facility for passport applications. The operation now employs six workers who process about 10,000 U.S. passport applicants per year. The office, which recently moved back to 2400 Nueces St. after nearly a year of renovations, is open to the public but is designed to accommodate staff, faculty and students during their busy schedules.

“The main service is convenience,” Passport Services manager Erick Romero says.

Employees are cross-trained in everything from preparing and executing an application to taking passport and visa pictures and handling payments. The goal is to provide efficient customer service.

“Every other place has another function,” Romero says. “The post office is 100 things you can do there, so their staff is limited with how much time they can dedicate.”

Passport Services is part of Texas Global, as is Education Abroad. This makes it very convenient for students who plan to work or do research abroad to apply for their passport in the same building.

Spring is the busiest time of the year. To avoid long lines or booking delays lasting months, the office uses an appointment system that allows scheduling just a few days in advance. Romero says it allows greater flexibility and availability for people who urgently need a passport.

Employees are straightforward about deadlines and an applicant’s probability of obtaining a passport, says Nicholas Jimenez, assistant manager of Passport Services.

“Our reputation has been really good on that regard,” Jimenez says. “We try to make it easy to understand, easy to come in and out. We know people have busy lives, whether you’re a student or general public.”

Jimenez says it is important to remember to treat everyone with kindness and respect and to keep customer service a top priority.

“You get the full luxury passport experience here,” Jimenez says.