Glitch in US passports affects Israel travelers

Delays in visas, document renewals; State Department doesn’t rule out cyber attack for computer system problems

Illustrative: Man holding a US passport. (Shutterstock)
Illustrative: Man holding a US passport. (Shutterstock)

The US State Department is experiencing technical issues with its passport and visa systems, possibly affecting travel from Israel.

A glitch in the department’s Consular Consolidated Database is causing delays for people traveling to the United States who have yet to receive new or renewed passports, trying to report births abroad or receive visas.

Officials said they had not ruled out a cyber attack, CNBC reported.

“Security measures prevent consular officers from printing a passport, report of birth abroad or visa until the case completes the required national security checks,” a State Department statement read Friday. “Service to our customers will be interrupted until the system is brought back online.”

The Bureau for Consular Affairs said that the issue is not specific to any one country, though the large number of American expatriates in Israel could affect reporting new births or renewal of travel documents.

US embassies and consulates have been issuing emergency passports to American citizens to circumvent the problem, but are limiting their services otherwise to priority humanitarian visas. Domestic passport issuance is apparently not affected.

Anyone who applied for an overseas passport after May 26 will see their applications delayed by the glitch. The same goes for anyone who applied for a visa after June 9, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The news comes after the Department of Homeland Security said last week that hackers, possibly from China, had accessed the records of thousands of US government employees. It was unclear if the State Department glitch was related.

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