While technology has helped modernize and streamline the world of immigration over the past decade, the latest system crash announced by the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) is proving to be a significant problem. All clients, in particular those with international travel plans, should be aware that the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs is experiencing technical issues with their visa systems. This issue is not specific to any particular country, citizenship, or visa category, and is affecting travelers worldwide.
The agency has attributed the technological glitches to a hardware failure with its Consular Consolidated Database that occurred on June 9th. The Consular Consolidated Database is the system used to administer passport and visa programs throughout U.S. consular posts. There is no evidence that the problem is cyber security-related.
With regards to passports, those applications accepted overseas on or after May 26, 2015, were affected but the agency states that overseas passports are now being issued. Any applicants that applied for a U.S. passport between May 26 and June 14, 2015 and have travel plans within the next 10 business days are urged to request an emergency passport at the U.S. embassy or consulate at which he or she originally applied. Emergency passport issuance operations have continued uninterrupted.
With regards to visas, those applicants who either submitted applications or were interviewed on or after June 9 may experience a delay in the processing of their visas. The system failure impeded the ability of consular posts to perform required national security checks prior to visa issuance, therefore, making visa printing temporarily unavailable. As a result, a backlog of visas awaiting processing is growing each day.
Foley Law Offices
The DOS released the announcment just a week after another error was reporting with its online DS-260 portals. Please be advised that applicants seeking to obtain a visa at a U.S Consulate or Embassy abroad can expect consular delays of at least a week or more.
Our primary attorney, John Foley, is attending the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Conference in Washington D.C. this week, where the disruptions are a main topic of concern amongst immigration professionals. Our office is working with our clients currently awaiting visa issuance abroad to ensure their safety and provide updates as they become available. If you are have immediate travel plans, are currently abroad or are experiencing issues with your passport or visa, please call Foley Law Offices immediately at (617) 973-6448. We will do everything in our power to ensure our clients, and their information, are protected and secure.
The National Visa Center (NVC) issued the following FAQ regarding the system failure:
Q: What caused this outage? Was it a malicious action or hack?
- There is no evidence the problem is cyber-security related.
Q: How long before you restore full system functionality?
- Public and private sector experts are working around the clock to correct the visa problem, but we do not expect the system will be online before next week.
- 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 had to reschedule visa appointments. We handle an average 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 as well as H2A agricultural workers.
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 intermittent processing delays. While some of these issues have affected same-day service at our passport agencies, we continue to issue passports to U.S. citizens with urgent overseas travel needs.
To learn more, please visit the NVC: www.natlawreview.com/article/dos-announces-system-failures-causing-passportvisa-delays-worldwide