On June 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that its visa system is experiencing technical problems, which are now causing significant delays in visa processing. The technical problems are preventing the DOS from performing national security checks, without which the DOS may not issue visas to foreign nationals. The DOS is also unable to print some visas upon approval. The issue is not specific to any particular country or visa category.
The DOS has made some progress in restoring its visa processing capabilities, and the Department is working around the clock to restore the system to full functionality. In the meantime, the visa backlog continues to grow. Many applicants are currently waiting several weeks for visa appointments at U.S. consulates abroad, and applicants at certain consulates must continue to wait for their approved visas to be printed and issued. On June 23, 2015, the DOS issued a list of consulates that are connected and able to issue visas.
Employers should be aware that employees who are currently traveling internationally will be unable to re-enter the United States until they have obtained a visa. Additionally, employers should inform employees who had planned to travel internationally in the near future of the visa processing delays, as they may want to postpone their travels until the DOS is able to process visas in a timely manner. Alternatively, if international travel is essential in the near future, employees may be able to avoid lengthy stays abroad by initiating the visa application process immediately and securing a visa appointment during an optimal time period.
Note that employees who already have valid visas in their passports do not need to apply for new visas; the current delays in visa processing will not affect international travel for these individuals.