Computer glitch affects thousands of US visas

  • 29/06/2015

The United States has revealed the effect a government computer crash has had on its ability to issue visas.

Consulates in 33 countries are working to clear a backlog of more than 300,000 applications. They include those from young Kiwis trying to travel to work at summer camps.

Riana O'Neill has just flown up to Auckland from Christchurch with her mum, still not knowing what's going on.

"We don't know if the visa's been issued or not, but because we don't know we just have to come up and here wait," she says.

Riana hopes Camp America will keep her position open, but she was supposed to fly out 12 days ago – one of 20 Kiwis still delayed by the global computer crash.

"I've missed all of orientation week, so all the staff will have been there, got to know each other, and I will just be the new kid."

"We had one girl lose a placement because she could not get there on time," says Vicky Kenny at International Working Holidays. "The camps don't really understand."

Up to 1000 Kiwis teach every year in the United States. They all need special visas, as do some business people and airline crews.

The US embassy here says a hardware failure crashed the visa system 20 days ago. It couldn't tell 3 News how many New Zealand applications had been affected, but claims the backlog was quickly cleared once the system came online last Friday.

But the State Department has revealed globally that "335,000 visas that ordinarily would have been printed were stuck in clearance. Of that number, nearly 300,000 have now been printed."

That delay has been costly and frustrating.

"It was $370 to change my flights so far, and [I] will have to change it again," says Riana.

"If they don't have a plan B they should communicate [that] to us – that's all we are asking," says mother Juliet O'Neill.

Riana will hopefully soon be on her way to Camp America, late for work and out of pocket because of it.

3 News

source: newshub archive