Some progress made on State Department visa problems

23 Jun 15

UNITED STATES

The State Department says it has begun to fix the computer glitch that has left embassies and consulates around the world unable to issue visas for nearly two weeks.

Officials said that as of Monday, the problem was fixed at 22 diplomatic posts and that they hoped the system would be fully functional again by the end of the week. The glitch affected biometric data processing in particular, making it impossible for embassies and consulates to run required security checks.

“The Bureau of Consular Affairs is in the process of resolving technical problems with our visa systems,” the State Department said. “Though some progress has been made, biometric data processing has not been fully restored.”

The State Department did not provide information about which 22 posts are back online, but said they represent “about half of the global nonimmigrant visa volume.”

Many posts have canceled visa appointments. For example:

  • The U.S. Embassy in China has asked those who filed DS-160 applications on or after June 9 to reschedule appointments if their original appointment fell between June 14 and June 20.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Australia has asked people with interviews scheduled this week to reschedule appointments if they submitted DS-160 applications on or after June 9.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Brazil canceled appointments last week and said that applicants would be contacted and provided details about how to reschedule.
  • The U.S. Embassy in London has said that people who submitted DS-160 online applications before June 9 should plan to attend their scheduled appointment, but that those who submitted DS-160 online applications on or after June 9 should continue monitoring the U.S. Embassy’s website and only attend appointments if the problem has been resolved.

The State Department first reported problems with issuing visas on June 12 and continued to report problems throughout last week.

Officials also temporarily experienced problems printing passports at diplomatic posts abroad, but those issues have mostly been fixed. The State Department said Monday that while overseas and domestic passports are being processed, there have been delays affecting some overseas passports and domestic same-day service and mail applications.

BAL Analysis: Public- and private-sector experts continue their efforts to fix the computer glitch that has plagued visa issuance around the globe. For now, the State Department is continuing to prioritize urgent humanitarian travel and visas for temporary agricultural workers. Other travelers should expect significant delays. Even after the system is fully operational, embassies and consulates will be left with huge backlogs. Those planning travel that requires a visa or passport should apply for their travel documents as soon as possible and prepare to adjust their travel if necessary.

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