DOS Database crash causes passport and visa operations delays:
Update: On August 4, 2014, the DOS reports that they have issued most of the worldwide backlog of visas, but are still working to bring the system back to full capacity.
Update: On July 30, 2014, the DOS posted FAQs regarding their database crash and resulting delays, which is taking longer to resolve than originally thought. The DOS now states it will take "weeks to resume full visa processing capacity"
While the FAQs are relatively extensive, the short story can be summed up below:
- The crash occurred as a result of a software upgrade issue. Unfortunately access to back up systems was also impacted, resulting in the protracted outage.
- It will take "weeks" (clearly "weeks" plural with no further specification) to fully resolve the technical issue.
- They still have the capability to process emergency passports and visas.
- They are prioritizing immigrant visa ( green cards) and are able to process these within a few days.
- They are not able to provide specific time frames with regard to other visas and passports in process.
OUR ORIGINAL ALERT IS BELOW:
The Washington Post reports that the Department of State's global database, used to approve, record and print visas and other documents has been experiencing "significant performance issues, including outages" since Saturday, July 19, resulting in an "extensive backlog" of applications. Click here to read the full article.
Consequently, the U.S. Consulate in Rome is reporting that, due to unprecedented demand, the processing time for E-Visas has been increased to 10 weeks from receipt. As recently as last month, the processing time for an E-Visa was 3 weeks. This delay will impact all E visa applications in Italy as the adjudication process is centralized in Rome.
Employers should consult immigration counsel to discuss their staffing needs and the impending delays. International employers, eligible to transfer employees under an L-1A or L-1B visa may want to consider requesting a "blanket" L petition, to eliminate the need to file separate petitions with the USCIS for each transferred employee. Under a Blanket L petition, transferring employees may apply for an L-1 visa directly at a U.S. consulate or embassy in the employee's own country and processing time is reduced from a number of weeks to days. In most cases, a blanket L petition will help employers reduce the amount of time it takes to transfer professional staff to the United States. For more information about Blanket L petitions, contact your Maggio + Kattar attorney.