The US Department of State issued a press release on 29 June with an update on the US Visa System failures. According to the release, published online at travel.state.gov, all visa-issuing embassies are now back online. This problem had also delayed issuance of passports to US citizens.
Visa interviews, for the issuing of non-immigrant and immigrant visas are also being scheduled. However, there are still issues with online immigrant visa applications, but the Department of State is working round the clock to rectify the issue.
As previously reported over 100 computer experts were working around the clock to fix a hardware fault affecting the US visa and passport system. The system had been down since June 7; news reports had suggested that the US immigration department had been unable to issue over 700,000 visas to travellers for over two weeks.
Hardware error stops US Visa issuance
The fault had been caused by a hardware problem, which stopped US immigration officials from being able to document and store fingerprints or photographs acquired when security checks were carried out.
Speaking last week about the problem, John Kirby, a US State Department spokesman, said: "With 50,000 applications received on a typical day, we're obviously working round the clock to rectify this problem. Over 100 computer experts from across the private and public sectors are on the case."
The problems with visa issuance have meant that numerous consulates and embassies have had to delay processing of visas. However, the State Department's latest update says they have issued over 300,000 non-immigrant visas in the last week.
Mexican workers left at the border
The system fault had left 350 Mexican migrant workers stranded at the border, unable to enter the US under the H-2A visa scheme to fill temporary job roles harvesting crops over the summer.
The State Department has since announced that all H-2 visas have been issued in Mexico which will also reduce the financial loss faced by farms across the US who will now be able to begin harvesting crops.
The State Department said: "We apologise for the inconvenience caused to travellers and understand the problems that this system failure caused to those waiting for visas. We also apologise to family members of those travelling and US employers affected by this system fault."
The State Department said that it would be dealing with the backlog by processing biometric checks that are already pending. Of 335,000 visas awaiting clearance between June 9 and June 19, 300,000 have been cleared, with the rest of the backlog expected to be eliminated this week. Priority processing is also been given to those who need to travel urgently which will remain the case until the system is fully operational.
US citizens have also been affected. There may still be processing delays for issuance of US passports in the US and abroad. However, for overseas applications emergency US passports may be issued for urgent travel.
Apparently all H-2 visas pending for the period 9 to 19 June have now been issued. Hopefully the US visa system will be back to normal soon.