Despite Recent Upgrades, Visa Processing Delays Continue
The wait for the U.S. State Department to address visa processing delays continues until core problems causing disruptions are resolved. According to a recent report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office cites increased demand for nonimmigrant visas and issues with IT systems as the two “key challenges” hindering the agency’s efforts to quicken the pace of processing.
The State Department estimates that the number of nonimmigrant visas will rise from 12.4 million in the 2014 fiscal year to 18 million in 2019 – a 45 percent increase. In order to decrease delays in visa processing, the State Department has recently added consular staff and made management changes, but further steps need to be taken. Consular officers reported to the GAO that “significant obstacles” for processing visas stem from IT issues with the Consular Consolidated Database and the nonimmigrant visa system. Impediments to NIV processing include recurrent NIV system outages and failures at individual posts, worldwide system outages of CCD, and IT systems that are not user-friendly.
A call for reform comes after a software update caused visa processing system glitches in July 2014, followed by technical problems with the visa system this summer. As a result, many visas approved after June 8th were unable to be printed, U.S. consulates and embassies couldn’t process applications submitted on June 9th or later, and numerous applicants had to reschedule interviews. The State Department said consular operations would be off-limits internationally due to a consular systems upgrade on October 9th.
In order to fix the problem, the GAO and State Department agree that IT system enhancements need to be prioritized and the attempts to improve processing need to be reevaluated. The GAO suggested that the State Department seeks input from consular officers on potential methods for improving the system. A State Department spokesman said the agency is “working harder than ever” to address these issues while ensuring that security is not compromised.
If you need more information on obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, please call or email Berardi Immigration Law today to arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys!