Technical Problems with Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Passport/Visa Issuance Systems

August 05, 2014

Although the Bureau of Consular Affairs is operational, it is currently issuing documents at a reduced capacity; it is expected to take weeks to resume full system functionality.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience delays in issuing visas and passports as a result of technical issues with its Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). The technical problems are occurring at U.S. consular posts worldwide and are not specific to any particular country, document, or visa category. As a result of the technical problems, many applicants have experienced delays in obtaining immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, U.S. passports, and Reports of Birth Abroad. According to DOS, U.S. consular posts produced just over half of the average number of passports and visas typically produced between July 20 and 28, creating a severe backlog.

The unprecedented technical problems began on July 20 after DOS performed a software upgrade to the CCD, which was intended to improve overall system performance and address previous intermittent CCD performance issues. The database began experiencing significant performance issues shortly after this maintenance. On July 23, the CCD was brought back online with limited capacity. DOS is now testing its system capacity to ensure stability and is incrementally increasing the number of processed cases as the systems will allow.

DOS anticipates that it will take weeks to resume full visa-processing capacity. Processing of immigrant visa cases (green card applications filed abroad), including adoptions, remains a high priority. Some embassies and consulates may temporarily limit or reschedule nonimmigrant visa interview appointments until more system resources become available to process these new applications. DOS may be able to issue passports and/or nonimmigrant visas on an expedited basis for emergency travel.

How This Affects You

If you are a nonimmigrant with a need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consular post abroad in the coming weeks, please contact Morgan Lewis for assistance. In emergency situations, consulates may have the capacity to process visa applications more quickly. In nonemergency cases, you may be able to request the return of your passport so that you can travel while waiting for your visa application to be processed. In most cases, however, you will not be able to reenter the United States unless your current visa remains valid. 

Morgan Lewis continues to monitor visa issuance at U.S. consulates worldwide and will provide further updates as we receive new information about visa processing in the wake of the system outage. 

For more information, please visit DOS's website.


For more information, or if you have any questions regarding the issues discussed in this Immigration Alert, please contact any of the following lawyers:

Washington, D.C.
Eleanor Pelta
Eric S. Bord

San Francisco
A. James Vázquez-Azpiri
Malcolm K. Goeschl

Lisa Stephanian Burton