Chad Brandt | Apr 1, 2019 | 0
Technical Issues with Visa Systems
The Bureau of Consular Affairs is in the process of resolving technical problems with their visa systems as the US visa and passport system has been down since June 7, 2015 due to a biometric hardware error. The State Department will be unable to issue visas until at least the end of June and this has led to many consulates and embassies around the world having to reschedule their visas.
Q: How long before you restore full system functionality?
- Public and private sector experts are making progress in correcting the visa problem, and we are striving to have the system fully reconnected sometime this week.
- As of noon today, 22 posts have been reconnected, representing about half of the global nonimmigrant visa volume. All our servers appear to be stable. There is a large backlog of cases to clear, but we have already made good progress. We will continue to bring additional posts online until connectivity with all posts is restored.
- Overseas and domestic passports are being issued.
Q: How many travelers are affected by this outage?
- Most posts were able to handle visa interviews and some visa printing as usual through the end of last week. This week, many posts have rescheduled visa appointments.
- • We handle an average of 50,000 applications daily worldwide. Many applicants do not have immediate travel plans, and will receive visas in time for planned trips. We are prioritizing urgent medical and other humanitarian cases.
Q: Once operational, how will cases be prioritized?
- We are already prioritizing urgent humanitarian cases and temporary agricultural workers. Once the systems are fully operational, we will work as quickly as possible to clear the backlog of pending visa cases.
- We apologize to travelers and recognize that this has caused hardship to some individuals waiting for visas.
Q: What about domestic passports?
- Domestic passport operations are functioning, with some processing delays. These technical problems have affected the intake of some mailed applications and same-day service at our passport agencies; however, we continue to issue routine and expedited passports to U.S. citizens for all overseas travel needs.
Q: What about overseas passports?
- Overseas passport applications are being processed. There have been delays in some cases, but posts overseas are able to issue emergency passports in urgent cases.
Q: What about the foreign agricultural workers (H2A visa holders?)
- We issued nearly 1,250 H-2 visas for agricultural and temporary workers last week. These are applicants whose biometric data was captured before the systems went down.
- Additionally over the weekend we worked with DHS/CBP to facilitate the entry of more than 250 H-2 workers to travel to their places of employment in the United States.
- CBP has agreed to give cases processed through the U.S. Department of State due consideration. However, no visa applicant, including agricultural workers, should report to the border without first having applied for a visa and having been processed through an embassy or consulate.
- Based on this weekend’s systems progress, we are currently rescheduling more than 1,500 H-2 visa applicants who were unable to be interviewed last week because of systems problems.