Menu
US visa system coming back online after major outage

US visa system coming back online after major outage

Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for US visas after significant system problems

A United States visa is seen inside a passport, in this image taken on June 17, 2015.

A United States visa is seen inside a passport, in this image taken on June 17, 2015.

The U.S. Department of State is back in the business of issuing visas after a significant computer system failure halted work at consulates worldwide and inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of travelers.

The failure of an unidentified piece of hardware involved in biometric processing brought the entire Consular Consolidated Database system to a halt.

The system is responsible for processing and issuing an estimated 50,000 U.S. visas per day. Applications made after May 26 were affected.

"The database has been rebuilt and is being tested," said John Kirby, State Department spokesman, at a briefing on Tuesday.

About two thirds of visa issuance facilities are back online and have been issuing visas although only 45,000 were handed out on Monday. Of those, 15,000 were issued in Beijing, which is the busiest U.S. consulate anywhere in the world.

"Significant additional numbers will be issued as the backlog clears," he said. "Many posts are now rescheduling interviews, in many cases as early as the 24th."

The State Department hasn't provided details on what exactly went wrong and why it took so long to fix, beyond saying the database needed to be rebuilt. It has stated the failure was related to a hardware device and was not the result of a cyberattack.

The same database failed at about the same time last year, throwing summer travel plans in chaos for around 200,000 people.

On that occasional, a bug-ridden software patch from Oracle and Microsoft caused the problem.

Kirby cautioned that the system was still being tested and as such could still be taken offline again.

"So far, it's going well," he said.

Throughout the outage, which also affected issuance of U.S. passports at missions overseas, the U.S. has been handling a small number of visa cases. It has issued around 1,250 visas to temporary or seasonal workers from Mexico whose biometric details were already in the system and it has handed out around 3,000 visas related to urgent or humanitarian purposes.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Government use of ITU.S. Department of State

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments