June 25, 2015

Some U.S. Embassies and Consulates Continue to Be Unable to Issue Passports and Visas

The Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State began experiencing technical outages that prevent the issuance of passports and visas at every consulate and embassy around the world on June 15, 2015 — one-third of all consular posts remain unable to issue visas as of June 24, 2015.

On June 15, 2015, our office alerted clients of a technical issue with the Bureau of Consular Affair’s Consular Consolidated Database that inhibited consular posts and embassies from printing visas or issuing U.S. passports. As of yet, the cause of the problem remains unknown, and there are no estimates for when the problem will be fully resolved. Department of State (DOS) officials at a recent American Immigration Lawyers’ Association conference indicated that the problem was related to biometric hardware failure and that no cyber security issues were suspected.

An update from the DOS released June 24, 2015, indicates that 50 consular posts (73 percent of nonimmigrant visa demand worldwide) have been restored to normal capacity. The list of fully-functioning consular posts include some of the world’s busiest in China, Mexico, Brazil and India.

Despite the return to visa issuance at those 50 posts, a large backlog remains. Since June 9, 2015, posts have now issued more than 150,000 nonimmigrant visas. DOS indicates that, had all systems been operating normally, consulates would have issued approximately 450,000 visas between June 9 and 23. 

All posts are now scheduling interviews with applicants. Travelers should review individual consulate’s websites for information about visa processing at that post in terms of delays, expected timelines and other relevant information. U.S. citizens seeking passport renewals at consulates abroad or in the U.S. may experience delays, but expedited service may be available in urgent situations.

Updates from DOS will continue to be posted at the Bureau’s Newsroom webpage and via its Twitter account.

This legal update is for information purposes only.

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