DOS Announces System Failures, Causing Passport/Visa Delays Worldwide
On June 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) announced that its Bureau of Consular Affairs “is currently experiencing technical problems with [its] visa systems. These issues have resulted in delays in printing visas and may mean rescheduling some visa interviews.” While DOS has stated that there is no evidence that the problem is cyber security-related, the agency has attributed the system errors to a June 9 hardware failure in its Consular Consolidated Database (“CDC”), the name given to the computer system used to administer passport and visa programs throughout U.S. consular posts. The glitch halted the flow of biometric clearance requests from posts to the CDC. The system failure is not specific to any particular country or visa category.
With regards to passports, those applications accepted overseas on or after May 26, 2015, were affected but the agency states that overseas passports are now being issued. Any applicants that applied for a U.S. passport between May 26 and June 14, 2015 and have travel plans within the next 10 business days are urged to request an emergency passport at the U.S. embassy or consulate at which he or she originally applied. Emergency passport issuance operations have continued uninterrupted.
With regards to visas, those applicants who either submitted applications or were interviewed on or after June 9 may experience a delay in the processing of their visas. The system failure impeded the ability of consular posts to perform required national security checks prior to visa issuance, therefore, making visa printing temporarily unavailable. As a result, a backlog of visas awaiting processing is growing each day.
This system failure does not affect domestic passport issuance, which continues uninterrupted. DOS states that it is working urgently to restore full functionality and service but provides no projections of when services will be fully operational, stating that “service to customers will be interrupted until the system is brought back online.” This widespread error comes a mere week after we reported on technical failures affecting the online DS-260 portals with similar disruptions and accessibility issues.