The U.S. State Department has estimated that it will take weeks before its database is fully functional after a global outage slowed issuance of visas.

Currently, U.S. consulates are issuing most immigrant visas with few delays. However, nonimmigrant visa applications should expect delays as consulates work through a significant backlog of new applications that have accumulated during the two-week database interruption. The agency is issuing passports and is meeting requests for passports for emergency travel. Travelers from visa-waived countries and travelers who hold valid visas issued before the outage are not affected by the delays.

The performance issues began July 20 after routine maintenance of the Consular Consolidated Database that records, approves and prints visas, passports and other travel documents.

The State Department said yesterday that it is still working toward full functionality of its system. It has been operating at approximately half capacity, having issued 220,000 nonimmigrant visas from July 20 to July 28 – a period in which 425,000 nonimmigrant visas would have been issued under normal conditions.

BAL Analysis: Visa applicants are advised to make appointments as early as possible before anticipated travel dates and not to book tickets until they have received a printed visa. Foreign employees, interns and students awaiting visas should contact their sponsoring entity about possible delays in start dates and enrollment.

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