Ireland is among the countries affected by a “system glitch” in the program that processes US visas and passports at embassies around the world. The "glitch" has resulted in over a week of delays for thousands – potentially millions – of travelers.
Travelers from Ireland to the US who have been cleared for visas and passports are already complaining about non-delivery of the documents, and there is said to be confusion and disarray at the United States Embassy in Dublin.
Unspecified issues caused the State Department’s global Consular Consolidated Database for issuing travel documents to crash last Saturday.
A spokesperson for the department, Marie Harf, told the AP that “significant performance issues, including outages" had caused an “extensive backlog” in the processing and security checks for passport and visa applications as well as reports of Americans born abroad.
"We apologize to applicants and recognize this may cause hardship to applicants waiting on visas and passports. We are working to correct the issue as quickly as possible," Harf said.
The number of people affected remains unclear, but with estimates starting at 50,000 in one country alone, the total may be in the millions. Last year, the number of visas issued by embassies abroad exceeded 9 million, and the summer months bring an uptick in applications.
The "glitch" has inconvenienced everyone from celebrities traveling in and out of the US, to parents waiting to take home their children adopted overseas, to visitors waiting to enter the US.
Actor Daniel Radcliffe, who recently wrapped up a Broadway revival of Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” was turned away last Friday at the US-Canadian border when he attempted to re-enter the country after the opening of his new film, “What If,” in Toronto.
The Telegraph reports that he was between visas, having just been approved for the O-1 visa, but was not able to receive the necessary stamp from the US Embassy in Toronto because of the backlog. Radcliffe has since returned to the U.S.
In Ireland, people waiting for visa approval from the US Embassy in Dublin have described the situation as completely chaotic. One man, who wished to remain anonymous, told IrishCentral that he had been approved for his visa over a week ago and was still waiting – not only for the visa, but also for his passport to be returned.
Yesterday the Embassy sent out the following email, noting “If you have travel planned in the near future, we would suggest adjusting your travel arrangements accordingly.”
“The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our visa system which are affecting operations globally. We recognize that this may cause inconvenience to travelers, and apologize for the delay.
“Although we have completed adjudication of your visa application, we are unable to take final action on the visa at this time. We hope to have our system fully operational again soon, but currently we do not have a timeline for when this may happen. If you have travel planned in the near future, we would suggest adjusting your travel arrangements accordingly.
“Again, we recognize and regret the inconvenience this may cause. If you would like your passport returned to you (without the visa) please let us know and we will return it for later issuance, or alternatively, you may collect your passport any afternoon between 1.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. Please be assured that as soon as our visa system is fully operational, we will continue processing your visa and contact you immediately, either by telephone or e-mail.
We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this matter.
Embassy of the United States of America
After receiving the email, the visa applicant went directly to the Embassy, where he said he was told “they couldn't answer my questions and that if I had any travel arrangements I should change them.
“I am supposed to be flying over to the US on Wednesday,” he said. “I'm going to have to cancel my flight and re-book. They told me the system has been down for a week now. What I don't understand is why they were still doing visa interviews when they knew they couldn't process them fully. This is going to end up costing me $1,000."
A CBS affiliate in Denver reports that local couple Amy and Danny Vogt are stuck in China, where they recently journeyed to finalize the adoption process of their 19-month-old son Jeremiah. The program failure resulted in a delay with Jeremiah’s papers, forcing the family to remain in China while the three other Vogt children eagerly await their parents and new sibling back home in Colorado.