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Young Kiwis blocked from travelling to US by visa glitch

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Young New Zealanders headed for northern summer jobs as Camp Counsellors and Nannies in the USA have been blocked from travelling because the US visa system has crashed.

According to Vicki Kenny, the founder of the International Working Holidays (IWH), the specialist overseas employment agency, which manages Camp America and Nannies Abroad in New Zealand: On June 9 the American Consular computer system crashed worldwide and they can't do security checks for visas without it so we have lots of camp counsellors and au pairs due to go to America, unable to get visas. It's partially back up but there is a back log and many people just cannot get to where they are supposed to be.’

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs says it is currently experiencing technical problems with its visa systems. This issue is not specific to any particular country or visa category but it is working urgently to correct the problem and restore full operability.

Vicki Kenny adds: The problem has affected our camp counsellors and nannies that had J-1 visa appointments after June 8, 2015. In addition, U.S. embassies and consulates are unable to process any new J-1 visa applications submitted on or after June 9, 2015.’

Rebekah Joyce was due to fly to the USA with IWH but says: I've had to push back my flights two times now because of the visa situation. Although I'm a returner, I've missed my first week of training which is where you meet everyone and build the important relationships.’

Riana O'Neill says: I've also had to change my flights at least twice and the price of flights is only going up. I was meant to leave on the 17th, I've missed all of orientation week and will most likely arrive after the first group of kids have already started camp.’

Victoria Salamence Ng adds: I received my visa sponsorship papers are the start of June and was very eager to get it sorted so I could head straight off, as the pas the programme intended. However I had my interview on the 10th, and my passport has been at the embassy ever since.’

Bridget Knight spent $500 to fly to Auckland for the day for the US consulate to tell her they can't process her visa because of this delay. Liv Brackenridge had to pay an extra $1400 to change her flights because of the delays.

Vicki Kenny points out: ‘They have started issuing visas again but there are still large delays and many young New Zealanders are caught up in the problem and are badly affected financially with delayed flights and camp or job starts.’

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