Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Global Visa Delays Follow Technical Difficulties with State Department System

From OgletreeDeakins, 07/29/2014

Last week, the U.S. Department of State’s visa processing database, which controls the issuance of visas and passports at the U.S. consulates abroad, experienced system performance issues (including outages) leading to worldwide delays in visa issuances for individuals seeking entry into the United States. The malfunction in the Consular Consolidated Database stalled the processing of U.S. visas for foreign nationals at consulates around the world, and was not limited to one consulate or country.

Although the consular database is back online, travelers should anticipate delays in obtaining U.S. visas. As confirmed by Department of State officials, consular systems are not fully operational and priority is being given to immigrant visa cases over nonimmigrant visa issuances, which are further delayed as a result of backlogs that have lengthened visa wait times. Visa applicants will be notified by the consulate when their passports and visas are ready to be collected.

Friday, July 25, 2014


From The Associated Press, 07/23/2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department's global database for issuing travel documents has crashed, resulting in major delays for potentially millions of people around the world waiting for U.S. passports and visas, officials said Wednesday.
Unspecified glitches in the department's Consular Consolidated Database have resulted in "significant performance issues, including outages" in the processing of applications for passports, visas and reports of Americans born abroad since Saturday, spokeswoman Marie Harf said. She said the problem is worldwide and not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category.
"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," she said.
Harf said the problems with the database have resulted in an "extensive backlog" of applications, which has, in turn, hampered efforts to get the system fully back on line.
It was not immediately clear how many people are affected, but two U.S. officials familiar with the situation said some 50,000 applicants were hit in one country alone. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly or identify the country.
The database is the State Department's system of record and is used to approve, record and print visas and other documents to ensure that national security checks are conducted on applicants.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Immigration Offices Will Close Across the Middle East, North Africa and Parts of Asia for Eid-al-Fitr

From Fragomen.com, 07/24/2014

Government offices throughout the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia will be closed in observance of Eid-al-Fitr. In most of the world, Eid-al-Fitr is expected to be observed between July 28 and August 1, though the exact dates will vary by country depending on lunar sightings. 

Immigration offices in Turkey will be closed July 28 – 30 and application processing is not expected to start again until August 4. Similar closures are expected in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Government offices in Saudi Arabia are expected to stay closed further into August. The Malaysian Immigration Department (MID) headquarters closed on July 21 and will stay closed until August 8; application processing will not start again until August 11. 

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals 

Employers and foreign nationals should be aware that immigration processing delays are likely in the weeks after Eid-al-Fitr, due to application backlogs that accumulate during this period. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

USCIS July Processing Time Reports

From Council for Global Immigration, 07/15/2014

USCIS has issued updated processing time reports for the month of July, which show processing times as of May 31, 2014 for the Vermont Service Center (VSC), California Service Center (CSC), Texas Service Center (TSC), Nebraska Service Center (NSC) and the National Benefits Center (NBC).

As of the end of May, all categories of H-1Bs were reported as being processed in 2 months at both CSC and VSC.  As a reminder, processing of premium processing cases did not begin until April 28, and processing of regularly filed H-1B cap cases did not begin until after that.  The 2 month processing times should not be taken as any indication of how quickly cap cases will be processed – we expect that processing times will be similar to last year for cap cases when some cases were not processed until very close to, or after, the October 1 start date for H-1B cap hires.

CSC and VSC both continue to indicate the standard processing times for L visas, with standard L visas being processed in one month and Blanket Ls in two months. 

There is now a backlog of EB-1 extraordinary ability cases at NSC, with a processing date of January 2, 2014 – a processing time of nearly 5 months.  All other I-140s continue to be processed in 4 months at NSC and TSC. For employment-based adjustments of status, NSC is processing I-485s in 4 months, but there continues to be a backlog at TSC, with a processing date of December 28, 2013 - a processing time of over five months.

Advance parole and employment authorization forms continue to be processed in 3 months at NBC.

Please click here to access the processing times for the VSC, CSC, TSC, NSC, and the NBC.

Friday, July 11, 2014

August 2014 Visa Bulletin

From Fragomen.com, 07/08/2014

EB-3 China and EB-2 India To Advance

According to the State Department’s August Visa Bulletin, the priority date cut-off for EB-3 China will advance by more than two years, to November 1, 2008, after the dramatic retrogression that took place in June. EB-2 India will move ahead by nearly five months, to January 22, 2009, continuing an advancement that began this month. 

EB-3 Philippines will advance by 17 months, to June 1, 2010, while EB-3 India will move ahead just one week, to November 8, 2003. For all other countries, EB-3 will remain at April 1, 2011. 

The State Department projects that EB-3 China could advance further in September, due to decreasing demand and the application of unused family-based immigrant visas. EB-2 India is not projected to advance further, and in fact could be retrogressed within the next several months, when demand is expected to increase. 

August 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 
In August 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

Current for all countries. 

China: October 8, 2009 
India: January 22, 2009 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: November 1, 2008 
India: November 8, 2003 
Philippines: June 1, 2010 
All other countries: April 1, 2011 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: July 22, 2005 
India: November 8, 2003 
Philippines: June 1, 2010 
All other countries: April 1, 2011 

Current for all countries and subcategories.