US visa applicants hit by delays over biometric data hitch

Kenyans seeking to travel to the US have been hit by a global visa processing delay attributed to a technical problem on a security verification system at consular sections.

The system has been down from June 9, affecting Visa applicants worldwide, including those who had booked flights in advance.

The biometric data verification system enables US embassies and consulates to conduct security background checks that are required to issue visas. The US embassy in Nairobi, is the largest US mission in sub-Sahara Africa.

“The Bureau of Consular Affairs is in the process of resolving technical problems with our visa systems,” said the American Consular Unit in a statement.

“We are striving to have the system online sometime this week.”

The consular said it was currently unable to print most non-immigrant Visas approved after June 8 and added that they will work as quickly as possible once the systems are fully operational to clear the backlog of pending Visa applications.

Individuals who had applied for Visa interviews after June 9 were asked to keep monitoring the local consular website and to only visit the embassy once the problem has been rectified.

However, non-immigrant Visa applicants who submitted their applications online prior to the system crash date will attend their interviews as scheduled.

“We are currently unable to process DS-160 online applications submitted on or after June 9. We recommend, therefore, that if you completed and submitted Form DS-160 on or after June 9, you continue to monitor our website and only attend the appointment if the situation has been resolved,” says the statement.

An Immigrant Visa applies to those seeking to enter and settle in the US permanently, whether or not they plan to seek employment in the country.

US immigration law provides for the issuance of Immigrant Visas in four general categories; immediate relative, family-based, employment-based, and the Diversity Visa (DV) Programme, known as the “green card” lottery.

Those wishing to apply for American Visas normally have to fill the forms online before they are given an appointment to attend interviews in person.

Most Kenyans apply for non-immigrant Visas to go to the US either for studies or business visits.

Source: Business Daily