The Department of State (“DOS”) has announced that it has been experiencing technical operational issues with its visa issuance system. The issues affect DOS’ ability to print nonimmigrant visas, commonly known as visa stamps. The issues began on July 20 and, as of July 31, have impacted about half of the individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas abroad. From July 20 through July 28, slightly more than 220,000 nonimmigrant visas were issued globally. DOS stated that it normally issues closer to 425,000 nonimmigrant visas for the same time frame. The issues appear to impact all U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide.
Companies should be mindful that these issues may affect the travel and possible start dates of employees being transferred to the U.S. In addition, it is common practice for some foreign nationals to seek nonimmigrant status extension while already in the U.S. These foreign nationals typically obtain a visa stamp for the extension during their first trip abroad, following the approval of the nonimmigrant status extension. Employers should warn employees travelling abroad and who are seeking visa stamps, that their travel arrangements may be impacted.
As of the date of this posting, DOS has indicated that it will take some weeks before it is back to normal turnaround times on issued visas. DOS will continue to release periodic updates to travelers on the issue. Updates can be found at the Department of State's website (click here).