The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs has recently answered some questions regarding the worldwide Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) problems that have delayed many from receiving their U.S. passports and visas. Consular Affairs is reporting that significant progress has been made in addressing the problem and most of the backlogged nonimmigrant visas have been issued.
However, efforts are still being made to bring the CCD back up to its full operational capacity. Visa applicants are advised that they might still experience delays of up to one week in additional processing times and should take this into consideration when making travel plans.
Below are some of the questions that Consular Affairs has answered:
1. What caused the system performance issues?
On July 20, in order to improve overall system performance, the software was updated per industry recommendations. The database then began to experience significant performance issues shortly after the maintenance was performed. An exact root cause has not yet been identified.
2. What steps were taken to mitigate the performance issues?
Since July 20, Consular Affairs has worked to restore operations to full capacity. On July 23, the CCD was brought back online with limited capacity. The Department of State is working with Oracle and Microsoft in order to address the remaining performance issues.
3. Has Consular Affairs experienced these types of outages in the past?
Consular Affairs has experienced minor outages in the past, but nothing of this magnitude.
4. What steps are being taken to prevent this from happening again?
Consular Affairs plans to upgrade the CCD to a newer version of the Oracle commercial database software by the end of the year. Additional servers are also being installed to stabilize the existing system until the new database is thoroughly tested and functional.
5. What do passport applicants need to know?
Consular Affairs has reported that all passports are currently being issued within customer service standards, despite the system problems. Passports are also being issued for emergency travel.
6. What do visa applicants need to know?
Visa applicants are advised to expect delays as pending cases are being processed. Emergency cases are quickly being processed to completion. If a visa applicant has questions they should reach out to their particular embassy or consulate via email or website.
7. How are cases being prioritized?
More than 50 percent of pending nonimmigrant visa cases are being printed, with the goal of prioritizing those pending the longest. In addition, immigrant visa and adoption cases, nonimmigrant medical emergencies and humanitarian cases are being prioritized.
8. What is the outlook for nonimmigrant visas?
Consular Affairs reports that current efforts are focused on restoring the system to normal operations, while continuing to adjudicate new applications. They are committed to reducing the number of pending visa cases as quickly as possible. Applicants should anticipate that visa issuance may be delayed 10 to 14 days until the system is restored to full functionality and pending applications are printed.
9. Is the Department of State going to reimburse applicants who missed flights, cancelled weddings or missed funerals?
Unfortunately, DOS will be unable to provide reimbursements. DOS always advises travelers not to make final travel plans until they have a visa in hand. Even when the CCD is operating normally, there may be delays in approvals or issuance.
10. How is this impacting student visas?
Consular Affairs is committed to issuing student visas to all qualified students and exchange visitors. These applicants should submit their applications well in advance of expected travel dates.
11. Will this have an impact on the U.S. economy?
Tourism and students have a major impact on the U.S. economy. Last year it was estimated that international visitors spent $180.7 billion and supported 1.3 million American jobs, while international students contribute $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses. Consular Affairs recognizes this significant impact and is taking all significant steps to ensure that the economic impact is minimal.
If you would like more information on obtaining a U.S. visa, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!