On June 16, 2015, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs issued an update to its earlier announcement on June 12, 2015 concerning technical problems with the Bureau’s overseas visa systems.  The technological issues are rooted in a hardware failure that occurred on June 9th, stopping the stream of biometric clearance requests which are crucial to visa issuances.  This problem is not limited to any specific country, citizenship document, or visa category.  The procurement of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad and US visa issuances overseas have all been affected by these technical issues.

Individuals who submitted online applications or who interviewed for visas on or after June 9th will most likely experience a delay in the processing of their visas because the systems that perform required national security checks are not operating properly.  The technical issues have disrupted or prevented some Department of State (DOS) primary data-share partners from accessing visa records.  As a result, consular officers have been unable to print visas and other travel documents because they cannot bypass the national security checks required to clear visa applicants.  Consequently, there is a backlog of visas waiting to be processed, and service will be interrupted until the system is brought back online.  The consulate may, depending on its procedures, contact individuals directly to reschedule visa appointments.

Passport applications accepted overseas on or after May 26, 2015 were also affected by these technical issues, but, as of June 17, 2015, DOS has resolved problems within the passport system and overseas passports are now being issued but perhaps at a slower pace.  Domestic passports are still being distributed without delays.  US citizens applying for a passport domestically in the United States will receive passports within the four-to-six week period, which is typical for standard passports.

DOS is prioritizing specific types of cases, such as immigrant visas for urgent humanitarian travel needs, and attempting to issue visas for those cases with minimal delay.  Individuals who require immigrant visas for urgent humanitarian travel needs should contact their nearest US embassy or consulate.  In addition, DOS is giving precedence to pending overseas adoption cases, including adoption cases in China.

DOS does not have a timeline as to when these technical issues will be resolved, but the system will not be fully functional before next week at the earliest.  When the system becomes fully operational, DOS will work to clear the backlog of pending visa cases first.  DOS will post updates to its website, travel.state.gov, as soon as more information becomes available.