US system failure could affect student visas

29 July, 2014

A computer glitch at the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs has led to reduced capacity and potential delays for student visa applications at one of the busiest periods for the international education industry as it prepares for the start of the next academic year.

The US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs homepage

An advisory statement on the department’s website said, “The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa system. We are operational, but currently issuing documents at a reduced capacity.”

The statement confirms that the issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document or visa category.

A separate statement, posted on the bureau’s homepage at the time of writing, says that progress is being made to restore the system, which is now being tested to ensure stability.

The bureau statement advises that in treating the backlog, immigrant visas will be the priority, potentially creating delays for student visa applicants.

“Processing of immigrant visa cases, including adoptions, remains a high priority. Some embassies and consulates may temporarily limit or reschedule non-immigrant visa interview appointments until more system resources become available to process these new applications. We sincerely regret the inconvenience to travellers, and are committed to resolving the problem as soon as possible,” the bureau states on the homepage.

In comments made in the Department of State daily press briefing last week, Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson, admitted there had been a technical problem and that there was a backlog. She said the problem had lasted “a few days”. She declined to give further details on how many cases were backlogged or how long it was expected to take to clear the backlog.

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