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 June 22, 2015, the Department of State updated the Consulate Alert, stating the Bureau of Consular Affairs is in the process of resolving technical problems with the visa systems. Though some progress has been made, biometric data processing has not been fully restored. As of noon yesterday, 22 posts had been reconnected, representing about half of the global nonimmigrant visa volume. Most posts were able to handle visa interviews and some visa printing. This week, many posts have rescheduled visa appointments. All servers appear to be stable. Although there is a large backlog of cases, they are making progress and will continue until connectivity with all posts is restored. Full connectivity is expected later this week.
June 17, 2015, Department of State First Update:
The Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience technical problems with visa systems. This is a global issue, and they 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, DoS does 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. The DoS says “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.”
June 17, 2015, Department of State Second Update
The Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience technical problems with their visa systems. The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) problems they are experiencing are not the same challenges they overcame last summer. In addition to more than 100 computer experts across the United States working on this problem 24/7, they are pursuing a variety of other solutions.
Nonetheless, yesterday, around 250 agricultural workers who had had visas in the past were issued new visas in Mexico. The DoS says “We anticipate that many more will receive visas this week. We deeply regret the inconvenience to travelers and recognize that this is causing hardship to those waiting for visas, and in some cases, their family members or employers in the United States.” No update has been provided about how DoS will handle improperly issued visas. Nor has information been provided about when the system is expected to be functional.
June 17, 2015
The Department of State issued an alert on June 15, 2015, which is still in effect. The subject of the alert is that the Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with its overseas passport and visa systems. These issues have resulted in delays in printing visas and may mean rescheduling some visa interviews. Some visa applicants will experience delays in receiving visas. Others will be contacted directly to reschedule their appointments. Passports are still being processed.The issue is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. Although the DoS does not believe these problems stem from any cyber-security hacking issues, their border security responsibilities are critical to the visa process. They state that they “cannot bypass the legal requirements to screen visa applicants before [they] issue visas for travel.”