As if the current backlogs weren’t bad enough, a June 9th computer glitch has stalled visa processing at U.S. embassies all over the world. The hardware malfunction has kept crucial biometrics information (including fingerprints) from reaching the foreign U.S. consulates. With border security being of highest priority, no visa processing procedure can be neglected. The technical issues are being worked on, and the Department of State (DOS) is hopeful that the system will be restored soon.
The good news is that the glitch is not believed to be due to a cyber security hack. No further details about the cause of the issue have been released. The bad news is that several U.S. consulates have canceled visa interviews scheduled between June 22nd and June 26th and are not rescheduling them until after July 6, 2015.
This has caused major complications for so many. I have several clients in Europe, South America and India all suffering the same dilemmas: cancelled appointments and issuance delays for travel visas. All this for no apparent reason other than “technical problems.” I have one engaged couple who is held up in Germany awaiting final processing, when they receive their passport containing their approved Fiancé visa. The visa was approved June 8th but because of the system failure and delays, they have not been able to receive final processing from the Frankfurt Consulate. All they want is to come to America and get married.
I have two clients in New Delhi dealing with this setback from different angles. One client has an immigrant visa with an I-601 waiver. Like the German couple, this client’s visa was approved, but he is not able to travel until the New Delhi Consulate can finalize his immigrant visa processing. My other client was subject to the visa appointment cancellations at the embassy. A tourist visa candidate, she was so close to the light at the end of the long tunnel, only to be dealt this blow.
On June 17, 2015, DOS updated their alert with the following:
The Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience technical problems with our visa systems. This is a global issue, and we are working around the clock to fix it. More than 100 computer experts from both the private and public sectors across the United States are working on this problem 24/7. That said, we do not expect the system will be online before next week. The problems stem from a hardware failure in a State Department facility in the United States on June 9. That failure is preventing the Department from processing and transmitting biometric data checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates. We cannot bypass the legal requirements to screen visa applicants before we issue visas for travel. Each visa decision is a national security decision, and we take our obligation to protect the United States seriously.
The Department of State has said that they will be processing non-immigrant visa applications for urgent humanitarian travel and adoptions first. Everyone else has to be patient. As I have told my clients, the only thing to do now is wait and hope that the technical problems are resolved quickly.
On June 22, 2015, DOS updated their alert with the following:
-The Bureau of Consular Affairs is in the process of resolving technical problems with our visa systems. Though some progress has been made, biometric data processing has not been fully restored.
-Our team continues to work on this 24/7 to restore the systems to full functionality.
-As of noon today, 22 posts have been reconnected, representing about half of the global nonimmigrant visa volume.
-We will continue to bring additional posts online until connectivity with all posts is restored.
-Last week, nearly 1,250 temporary or seasonal workers who had been issued visas in the past were issued new visas in Mexico, and we have issued more than 3,000 visas globally for urgent and humanitarian travel.
-We deeply regret the inconvenience to travelers and recognize the hardship to those waiting for visas, and in some cases, their family members or employers in the United States.
-We continue to post updates to our website, travel.state.gov.