New York’s Greek General Consulate has issued 1,828 Greek passports in 2018 and 1,738 in 2019. But more than 3,000 Greek passports have been issued between October 1,2020 and April 20, 2021, an overwhelming increase of more than 200 per cent.
The trend is similar in all Greek consular offices in the United States.
In Washington, D.C, in 2019 they issued 373 passports. In 2020 dispite the pandemic they issued 541 passports (+45%) and so far in 2021, 350 passports.
In Boston, Massachusetts, in 2020 they received 821 applications and they issued 597 passports. While during the first quarter of 2020 there were 155 applications, in 2021 (until 3/13) 289 applications have been received. The passports issued during the first quarter of 2020 were 121, compared to the 346 in the first quarter of 2021 (until 3/16).
While it is keeping up with this wave, the Consulate General of Greece in New York, as the first consular authority in the world that is using artificial intelligence technology,can reach unprecedented new efficiency in a matter of months. Consul General Koutras is strongly supported in the implementation of digital technology to benefit this most important segment of the omogeneia by Prime Minister Mitsotakis, Minister of State and Digital Governance, Kyriakos Pierrakakis and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias.
The GN asked Consul General Dr. Konstantinos Koutras to explain the phenomenal increase in Greek passport applications, the operations behind processing applications, the advantages of a Greek passport, and his vision.
GN: Do you think that most of the people are getting citizenship and passports for practical reasons?
CGK: No, no, it’s emotional, and it’s practical; the majority of the people, hadn’t realized that they weren’t Greek citizens, they thought it happened automatically. And other important factors play a role. First, the Greeks are very proud of how the Greek government and people succeeded in combatting the first wave of the pandemic; Greece was among the first countries in Europe, and the globe, and still is.
Second, teleworking has surfaced during the pandemic; you could be in your home right now or in Mykonos and be making this ZOOM interview. So, we have hundreds, even thousands of cases of Greek American—university students, people in finance, etc.—now working in Greece, offering their services in the United States. If you have a US passport, you are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area only 90 days; if you have a Greek passport, you are allowed to stay as long as you wish. This is a crucial factor in the surge.
Third, the Greek government has given the right to Greek citizens to vote from their country of residence. All in all, there is now great interest in the motherland. That makes us very proud.