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Passport and Visa Processing Delayed Due to State Department Computer Glitch

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on August 10, 2014

A computer glitch that caused a significant delay in passport and visa processing is continuing to cause problems for immigrants seeking visas and U.S. citizens seeking passports. The State Department’s data processing system experienced significant performance issues from July 19-23 and, although, the database was restored on July 23, the system is still struggling. According to the Wall Street Journal, experts estimate that tens of thousands of visas are working their way through the system.
According to the Associated Press:

“Unspecified glitches in the department’s Consular Consolidated Database have resulted in ‘significant performance issues, including outages’ in the processing of applications for passports, visas and reports of Americans born abroad since Saturday, spokeswoman Marie Harf said. She said the problem is worldwide and not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category.”

” ‘We apologize to applicants and recognize this may cause hardship to applicants waiting on visas and passports. We are working to correct the issue as quickly as possible,’ she said.”

At a State Department briefing on July 30, spokeswoman Marie Harf said the department doesn’t believe there was “malicious intent” involved with the outage. “We believe the root cause of the problem was a combination of software optimization and hardware compatibility issues,” Ms. Harf said.

As a Wall Street Journal article pointed out, the computer glitch and resulting processing delays are causing significant problems for a number of industries and immigrants from a number of countries. For instance, in India, many high-tech workers and researchers waiting for temporary work visas, such as H-1B visas, have had their interviews canceled or rescheduled.

The State Department shared the following information on its website:

“On July 20, to improve overall system performance and address previous intermittent performance issues, we updated software per industry recommendations.  Our database began experiencing significant performance issues shortly after this maintenance was performed.

A root cause has not been identified at this time.  Current efforts are focused on bringing the system back to normal operations.  Once that has been accomplished, resources will be applied to determine the root cause…

We are telling visa applicants to expect delays as we process pending cases.  We remain able to quickly process emergency cases to completion.   

We are posting updates to the visa page of, and our embassies and consulates overseas are communicating with visa applicants.

In addition to communicating through our websites, e-mail, and letters, we are also reaching out to applicants via Facebook and other social media sites, such as Weibo, to relay the latest information…

More than 50 percent of pending nonimmigrant visas cases are being printed, with the goal of prioritizing those pending the longest.

In addition, we are prioritizing immigrant visa and adoption cases, nonimmigrant medical emergencies, and humanitarian cases.”

Contact an Employment Immigration Lawyer

The Chicago immigration lawyers at Shapiro Law Group have more than 30 years of experience helping businesses, immigrants, and U.S. citizens with their visa needs. Contact our office at (847) 564-0712 to learn more about visa and passport processing delays or to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced U.S. immigration lawyers.