On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs announced that all visa-issuing embassies and consulates are back online! The remaining visa interviews are being scheduled and the Consulates are issuing nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. As of Friday the 26th, the Consulate issued more than 300,000 nonimmigrant visas through the course of the week, and the Consular staff intend to clear the remaining backlog by early next week. To do so, they will be operational through the weekend. Although the problems with visa issuing has been resolved, the Consulate continues to experience problems with some online immigrant visa application forms.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs reports that the database responsible for handling biometric clearances has been rebuilt and is being tested. As of June 23, 2015, 39 posts, representing more than 2/3 of normal capacity, are now online and issuing visas. Yesterday, 45,000 visas were issued, with 15,000 of those in Beijing alone. The Consulate continues to work 24/7 to restore full biometric data processing and will continue to bring additional posts online until full connectivity and functionality has been restored. The Consulate still targets full functionality to be restored this week and will process visas over the weekend to clear visa processing backlogs. It may take time to clear backlogs; however, because the Consulate processes an average of 50,000 applications a day worldwide. To put the delay in perspective, the Consulate will begin interviews this week for those who applied after June 8, so it will likely take another 2-3 weeks to clear the backlog.
For a list of Consulate Posts where connectivity has been restored, click here.
On March 24, 2015, USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez announced a 45-day public feedback period for the updated policy Memorandum on L-1B Specialized Knowledge Workers. The purpose of the memo is to clarify for USCIS officers how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge. According to Director Rodriguez, “this policy memorandum, once it goes into effect, will help companies in the United States better use the skills of talented employees in the global marketplace.” The period for public feedback is set to expire later this week.
USCIS issued the L-1B adjudications policy memo in response to President Obama’s November 2014 Executive Actions. In particular, Director Rodriguez said “these changes maintain the integrity of the L-1B program while recognizing the fluid dynamics of the 21st century business world,” which is exactly what President Obama’s Administration intended when it requested that the Department of Homeland Security modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.
The memorandum will go into effect on August 31, 2015.