State Department visa glitch could be fully resolved soon

24 Jun 15

UNITED STATES

The State Department is well on its way to fixing the computer glitch that left the U.S. unable to issue visas overseas, but embassies and consulates around the world still face huge backlogs of applications that have piled up over the past two weeks.

The State Department said Tuesday that computer experts rebuilt and are testing a database used for biometrics clearance. Thirty-nine diplomatic posts were back online as of Tuesday after officials reported that 22 were online Monday.

“Our team continues to work 24/7 to restore the systems to full functionality,” the agency said.

The State Department first reported problems with visa issuances on June 12 and continued to report problems throughout last week. The posts that were back online by Tuesday represent more than two-thirds of the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ normal capacity, the State Department said.

Those posts include: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in Brazil; Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang in China; Bogota, Colombia; Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic; Guayaquil and Quito in Ecuador; San Salvador, El Salvador; Paris, France; London, England; Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi in India; Tel Aviv, Israel; Kingston, Jamaica; Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Merida, Mexico City, Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana in Mexico; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; Lima, Peru; Manila, the Philippines; Moscow, Russia; Seoul, South Korea; Kyiv, Ukraine; and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Even among those posts back online, visa-issuing capacity varies. For example, Beijing issued 15,000 visas Monday (out of 45,000 issued at all embassies and consulates that day), while London reported Wednesday it was still unable to print most visas approved on or after June 9. Those with questions can check the website of the appropriate embassy or consulate.

Embassies and consulates issuing visas again are now faced with huge application backlogs.

“There is a big backlog,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a daily press briefing Tuesday. “On average we process about 50,000 a day across the world, so there’s … a big backlog. It’s going to take a while to clear that.”

Check for updates on the State Department’s website.

BAL Analysis: The State Department’s announcement that it is moving toward resolving the computer problems that plagued visa issuance over the last two weeks is welcome news, but the problems posed for travelers are far from over. Embassies and consulates are facing significant backlogs and those planning travel that requires a visa should submit their applications as soon as possible, expect delays and prepare for the possibility of adjusting their travel if necessary.

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