Monday, July 28, 2014

US Passport and Visa Issuance Computer Crash, Thousands Stranded Worldwide

A story that has gotten some play but not nearly enough is that the system for issuing US passports and visas has broken down.

Passport issue times have slowed down, and visa issuance has broken down as a result. Foreigners looking for permission to travel to (or return to) the U.S. are stuck waiting.

Problems began July 19, although it wasn’t the year’s first system crash.

The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) at the State Bureau of Consular Affairs “is currently experiencing technical problems with our passport/visa system,”

…The issues, she said, have resulted in significant backlogs. Visas are approved, recorded and printed through the CCD. “Until the system comes back online, we are unable to print visas.

While H1B status can be approved for 3 years (renewal once), the length of time that any given country’s citizen is given on their visa depends on where they’re from. Citizens of most of the world get their Visas for 3 years. That’s true for places like Pakistan. Citizens of Mexico only get visas one year at a time. So a colleague is down in Mexico renewing his visa (or else he wouldn’t be able to travel outside the country and return, as he does tend to need to do). And he’s stuck there. He writes,

I am still in Mexico. The US Bureau of Consular Affairs has been dealing with technical issues that prevents US Consulates to print Visas. That includes mine. There is nothing wrong with my petition/file. It is a worldwide system problem. If you want to be “amused”, look here:

A reader looking for advice on changing flights due to the issue writes,

I have some friends who are in Guangzhou, China now finalizing an adoption. They are working in getting the baby a US visa, but apparently the US consulate there is having technical issues and they have been delayed several days.

The State Department says they’re working on it.

As of July 27, the Department of State has made continued progress on restoring our system to full functionality. As we restore our ability to print visas, we are prioritizing immigrant cases, including adoptions visas. System engineers are performing maintenance to address the problems we encountered. As system performance improves, we will continue to process visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. We are committed to resolving the problem as soon as possible.

This is a very big deal, for obvious reasons, and so I will refrain from the obvious snark.


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