Irish travellers seeking US visas warned to expect delays
A worldwide computer glitch in the US government's passport and visa system means hundreds of Irish citizens who require visas to travel to America can expect unspecified delays in processing their applications.
Visas are required for students and business people who will be studying or working in the US but they are not required for ordinary tourists or holidaymakers who are travelling to the US for less than 90 days.
All of the Irish citizens affected by last week's glitch – which reportedly number less than 200 – have been contacted by the US embassy.
However, any Irish citizen who urgently needs to travel to the US is being asked to contact the US embassy directly.
A spokesman said last night: "The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa system.
"Our visa systems are operating at a reduced capacity and will be until we clear the backlog. This issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category."
However, the embassy moved to assure American citizens that anyone requiring US passports for "emergency or urgent travel" will be given priority.
Normal passports are still being issued within the normal four to six-week timeframe.
"We are working urgently to correct the problem and expect to be fully operational again soon," the spokesman said, adding he was unable to say how long applicants could expect to wait.
However, one disgruntled applicant who applied for a visa was told he should consider "adjusting your travel arrangements accordingly" after he got an email from the embassy stating it could not provide a "timeline" as to when the system would be up and running again.
As he was due to fly to the US today, he said he would have to cancel his flight and re-book.