Those with travel plans for the US this summer may find their visa process hitting a hurdle, as an unidentified ‘technical glitch’ is affecting the issuance of visas and passports at US embassies worldwide.
In its official statement, the US State Department lists the UAE among countries affected, adding that this issue was not specific to any particular country or visa category.
The authority says a hardware failure since June 9 has halted the flow of biometric clearance requests from posts to the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD).
A statement on the US embassy Abu Dhabi’s website stated it was “working urgently to correct the problem and restore full operability”.
The embassy further added: “US passport applications accepted overseas or after May 26, 2015, are affected by this delay.
“If you applied for a US passport overseas during this time frame and have travel plans within the next 10 business days, please consider requesting an emergency passport at the US embassy or consulate at which you originally applied.”
To request an emergency passport, send an email to the Abu Dhabi embassy, including the name of the applicant and the planned travel dates in your email.
The organisation states it will advise by email, when to come in and what to bring in for the appointment.
Those who have applied for their US visa after June 8, 2015, are also affected by this delay, the embassy said.
In addition, non-immigrant visa applicants who did not submit their DS-160 online application prior to June 9, 2015, would need to reschedule their interview appointments, it noted.
The embassy, however, said individuals with urgent travel should request an expedite through the appointment system.
What went wrong?
According to the US State Department, a hardware failure halted the flow of biometric clearance requests from posts to the CCD.
It stated: “Individuals who submitted online applications or were interviewed for visas on or after June 9 may experience a delay in the processing.
“The systems in place to perform required national security checks before we issue visas are experiencing technical difficulties. As a result, we are unable to print visas.”
The authority added it was not able to bypass the legal requirements necessary to screen visa applicants before it issues visas for travel, resulting in a backlog of visas under process.
The technical issues being experiencing have disrupted or prevented some of the department’s primary data-share partners from accessing visa records.
Incidentally, the same system faced a week-long outage last year in July, causing a backlog of at least 200,000 applications.
Those affected in the UAE can obtain more details by contacting on www.usvisa-info.com or the call centre at: 04 376 8311 or 02 447 6084.