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  • Overseas Passports and Visas Suspended by State Department

    state_departmentThere was some very big visa news in June when a technical glitch in the US State Department consular database prevented the department from issuing passports and travel visas overseas.

    The problem has now been taken care of, but it is likely that thousands of applications were delayed as a result. The State Department is still investigating the glitch, which happened early last month. While details are minimal, it is clear that the glitch prevented the department from being able to issue passports and visas overseas, affecting countless foreign travelers and some US travelers abroad. As of now, the State Department hasn’t ruled out the possibility that this glitch was a malicious attack, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    Thousands of international travelers were likely affected by the technical problem. The issue affected anyone who was trying to apply for a US passport from an international location after May 26 and people applying for visas to the United States after June 9. As the State Department deals with the issue, it said that it is prioritizing visa applications for pending adoption cases overseas, including adoptions from China.

    The glitch forced the State Department to completely suspend the issuance of overseas visas and passports for a period of weeks. During that time, however, people who lost their passports while traveling abroad were able to obtain emergency passports.

    Thankfully, the situation has now been remedied, ABC News reports. State Department spokesman John Kirby reportedly said that 45,000 visa applications were finalized on Monday of last week. Apparently, a third of those visas were from China. Kirby also reported that 33 US embassies and consulates are now back online and that visa interviews have resumed.

    Evidently, the technical glitch caused a backlog of hundreds of thousands of applications, so it is likely that overseas visa applications will be delayed for some time.

    Perhaps most upsetting of all is that this is the second major glitch in the consular database in a year. A similar glitch occurred last summer and caused the system to be shut down for several weeks. Hopefully, whatever’s going on will be resolved quickly, and new securities will be put in place to help prevent further glitches in the future.

    Again, this problem shouldn’t cause any trouble for people applying for US passports from within the United States, nor should it cause problems for US citizens applying for visas to other countries. We will keep you up to date as this story develops.

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