Delays in Visa and Passport Issuance at US Embassies/Consulates Caused by Technical Problems

by Protima Daryanani

The Department of State (DOS) is currently experiencing technical problems with their overseas passport and visa systems. This appears to be a worldwide situation and not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. Those affected by this technical problem should check the DOS website for any updates. Moreover, DOS has not provided a time frame for the resolution.

Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants
The systems in place to perform background security checks on each visa applicant are experiencing technical difficulties. US Embassies/Consulates are not able to bypass these security checks. As a result, nonimmigrant visa applicants filing nonimmigrant visa application Form DS-160 on or after June 9, 2015 will not be able to move forward with their visa application process until the technical issues are resolved. While DOS sincerely regrets these delays, they will only entertain expedite requests for urgent humanitarian need.” In addition, we expect that even once the situation is resolved, we will see delays while the US Embassies/Consulates clear their backlogs.

Immigrant Visa Applicants
Some immigrant visa applicants continue to experience technical difficulties accessing Form DS-260. The DOS suggests that these issues are intermittent and that applicants return to the application website periodically to try to complete Form DS-260.

Passport Applicants
The technical difficulties are also causing delays in the printing of US passports that were approved at overseas passport facilities. Applications accepted by the Passport Unit at an Embassy abroad on or after May 26, 2015 are affected by this delay. Applicants who requested a US passport during this time frame and who have travel plans within the next ten business days should consider requesting an emergency passport at the US Embassy at which they originally applied.

UPDATE (June 18, 2015): The State Department reports that the Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to address the global technical problems with their visa systems. While there is no indication that the outage was related to a cyber security issue, the system is not expected to be online before next week at the earliest. Although passports are still being processed, visa applicants should expect lengthy delays and also that their appointments may be rescheduled. US Embassies/Consulate are prioritizing urgent medical and other humanitarian cases as well as H-2A agricultural workers. We will provide any additional updates as we receive them.

UPDATE (June 23, 2015): The State Department reports that as of yesterday twenty-two consular posts have been reconnected to their systems (which represents about half of the global nonimmigrant visa volume), and they are continuing to restore systems to full functionality. Though some progress has been made, biometric data processing has not been fully restored. As promised, the State Department has prioritized temporary and seasonal workers with nearly 1,250 visas issued in Mexico, and they have issued more than 3,000 visas globally for urgent and humanitarian travel. There is a large backlog of cases to clear, but many posts are conducting visa interviews and are able to print some visas and also have rescheduled visa appointments. Domestic passport operations are functioning albeit with some processing delays and the State Department continues to issue routine and expedited passports to US citizens for all overseas travel needs.

UPDATE (June 24, 2015): The State Department reports that thirty-nine consular posts, which represents more than two-thirds of their normal capacity, are now online and issuing visas.  Moreover, the State Department anticipates that the system will be fully reconnected this week, and personnel will work over the weekend to clear the backlog.