Update: Global Technical Issues with Passport and Visa Systems

Visa Systems Issues

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is in the process of resolving technical problems with our visa systems.  Biometric data is not yet processing properly to allow embassies and consulates to perform security checks required to issue visas.

More than 100 experts across the country are working on this problem 24/7.  We are pursuing a variety of solutions.  This week, nearly 750 temporary or seasonal workers who had been issued visas in the past were issued new visas in Mexico, and we have issued another 1,500 visas globally for urgent and humanitarian travel.  We continue to look for ways to facilitate travel as we work to restore the systems to full functionality.

We deeply regret the inconvenience to travelers and recognize the hardship to those waiting for visas, and in some cases, their family members or employers in the United States.

Q: What caused this outage?  Was it a malicious action or hack?

There is no evidence the problem is cyber-security related.

This is not the same problem we had with the CCD last year, which was a problem with the database caused by a software patch.  This is a hardware failure, and we are working to restore system functions.

Q: How long before you restore full system functionality? 

Public and private sector experts are making progress in correcting the visa problem, and we are striving to have the system online sometime next week.

Overseas and domestic passports are being issued.

Q: How many travelers are affected by this outage?

Most posts were able to handle visa interviews and some visa printing as usual through the end of last week.  This week, many posts have had to reschedule visa appointments.  We handle an average 50,000 applications daily worldwide.  Many applicants do not have immediate travel plans, and will receive visas in time for planned trips.  We are prioritizing urgent medical and other humanitarian cases as well as H2A agricultural workers.

Q: Once operational, how will cases be prioritized?

We are already prioritizing urgent humanitarian cases and temporary agricultural workers.  Once the systems are fully operational, we will work as quickly as possible to clear the backlog of pending visa cases.

We apologize to travelers and recognize that this has caused hardship to some individuals waiting for visas.

Q: What about domestic passports?

Domestic passport operations are functioning, with some processing delays.  These technical problems have affected the intake of some mailed applications and same-day service at our passport agencies; however, we continue to issue routine and expedited passports to U.S. citizens for all overseas travel needs.

Q: What about the foreign agricultural workers (H2A visa holders?)

We issued nearly 750 H2A visas for agricultural workers this week.  These are applicants whose biometric data was captured before the systems went down.