In June 2015, more than 700,000 visas were put on hold and over 1,500 visa applications have been rescheduled because a computer error is preventing U.S. State Department officials from processing and storing applicants’ photos and fingerprints for security checks. The error occurred on June 7 and was expected to remain unresolved until the end of the month at the earliest, despite the State Department having called in over 100 computer experts to work around-the-clock on this issue.
As of June 29th, all visa-issuing embassies and consulates are now back online. They are scheduling visa interviews and issuing nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. The Department of State issued more than 410,000 nonimmigrant visas from June 21 through June 29. Consular staff worked through the weekend to diminish the backlog, the bulk of which has now been cleared.
Since the department typically receives 50,000 applications a day, this has resulted in a significant backlog as interviews are cancelled or rescheduled. Some applicants have reported their interviews being rescheduled weeks after the original date, and emergency visas are being issued wherever possible. The State Department announced it is issuing close to 1,250 employment visas in Mexico to help Mexican migrant workers enter the US for temporary work and hopefully stem financial losses for U.S. farms. Another 3,000 visas have also been issued for humanitarian causes and urgent travel.
Due to all of the postponed visa interviews and applications, the backlog continues to grow daily, ensuring that there will be delays even when the biometric hardware is fully restored. In the meantime, the State Department has stated that priority is being given to emergency humanitarian cases and temporary workers, while less urgent cases are being held for whenever the system is fully operational. The department has also indicated it will continue to grant emergency and expedited interview appointments once the problem is resolved, though there are no guarantees without a set timeframe.
According to a bulletin posted by the State Department, the department regrets the inconvenience and understands the hardship for families and employers caused by the crashed system. The same bulletin indicated they have found no evidence that this is cyber-security related. Domestic and overseas passports will continue to be issued.
For more information on how the down system could affect your visa application or to request a free consultation, call (858) 874-0711 to speak with the professional immigration lawyers in San Diego at KS Visa Law. We’re here to help.