APPLICANTS for visas to the United States are facing longer waits than usual owing to an unresolved technical failure.
The problem, which has been delaying applications worldwide, is estimated to be affecting more than 1,000 applications here although the US Embassy in Singapore did not give a specific figure.
Singaporeans going to the US for holidays and business meetings are not affected. Since 1999, under the US visa waiver programme, Singaporeans visiting the country for 90 days or less for such purposes have been allowed to enter without a visa.
IMPACT ON TRAVELLERS
Until the systems operations are restored, those who require a US visa may need to amend their travel plans. We deeply regret the inconvenience to travellers and recognise the hardship to those waiting for visas.
- US Embassy spokesman Nick Snyder
Those who need a visa are students, temporary workers, exchange visitors, immigrants to the US and Singapore residents from countries that are not under the programme.
A notice on the embassy's website said it has been unable to print most immigrant and non-immigrant visas approved since June 8. US embassies and consulates have also been unable to process new applications submitted on or after June 9.
The embassy has also had to reschedule visa interview appointments. It told The Straits Times yesterday that it usually processes at least 100 applications a day.
Embassy spokesman Nick Snyder said the US government is working round the clock to fix the issue, which prevents biometric data such as fingerprints from being processed, and is striving to restore the system fully "some time this week".
The embassy will "work as quickly as possible to clear the backlog of pending visa cases" once the problem is fixed.
He added: "Until the systems operations are restored, those who require a US visa may need to amend their travel plans. We deeply regret the inconvenience to travellers and recognise the hardship to those waiting for visas."
He added that the embassy issued more than 31,600 non-immigrant visas last year and remains on track to exceed that number this year.