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Can an applicant's passport get missing at the US embassy?

It is extremely rare, but it does happen that a visa applicants passport can indeed go missing. The single one that I remember from my entire career had apparently slipped off a cart transporting stacks of passports to have their visas printed and inserted. The thing finally turned up, months later, when the teeny old elevator was repaired. The repair guy found the passport half-buried among the grease and gunk at the bottom of the shaft. It had apparently slid off the cart and between the cars floor and wall. I was elected to have to call the passports owner, and was scolded nonstop for several minutes. The familys long-anticipated vacation trip had been thrown into a panic with a last-minute scramble for a place to leave the unlucky owner of that passport, since there was no time to get a new one. We finally wrote a formal letter of dignified but abject apology, printed on the ambassadors fanciest, most formal letterhead and signed by him. Last I heard, the teenager who had missed that US trip was now a parent himself, and that framed letter held pride of place on his apartment wall.

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