Practice Alert: Guidance for Demonstrating an Exemption to Presidential Proclamations That Suspend Entry Due to COVID-19
AILA Doc. No. 20072934 | Dated July 29, 2020
When a prospective traveler is explicitly exempt to the COVID-19 related travel bans, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not need to be notified in advance of travel to have an exemption waiver approved before attempting to board. The traveler should bring to the airport evidence establishing his or her entitlement to the express exemption, such as relevant marriage or birth certificate. If the USC or LPR spouse, child, parent or sibling is not traveling with the individual, he or she should have copies of any documentation that establishes the individual’s status in the United States (such as alien registration card or U.S. passport).
If the traveler has any issues boarding the flight, he or she should ask that the airline to contact the appropriate CBP Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG). RCLGs were created by CBP to assist airline carriers with questions concerning the validity of travel documents and admissibility of travelers. Once a determination is made on validity or admissibility, the RCLG will make a recommendation to board the passenger, or to deny boarding. The final decision to board or not board lies with the carrier. RCLGs are available for these requests 24 hours a day. This service is available to all carriers worldwide for any flight destined to the United States.
The RCLG cannot be contacted by the traveler or their attorney/representative. This is an internal process/avenue of communication that is only available between the carriers and CBP.
As a reminder, the following are explicitly not subject to the Proclamations impacting China, Iran, the Schengen area, the U.K. and Ireland, and Brazil:
- any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
- any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
- any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
- any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
- any alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
- any alien traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew;
- any alien (A) seeking entry into or transiting the U.S. pursuant to one of the following visas: A-1, A2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories); or (B) whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement;
Finally, members are reminded that the CBP Liaison Committee and local CBP liaisons have created a spreadsheet that compiles information for local procedures to request Satisfactory Departure (SD) and National Interest Exemptions (NIE) requests at CBP ports and preclearance locations due to COVID-19. NIE requests are for those foreign nationals who can demonstrate that their entry falls within that type of exemption enumerated in the Proclamations and are distinct from the explicit exemptions listed above. The information included is updated by local CBP liaisons and the national liaison committee and contains port specific procedures.
AILA members are encouraged to send updated information or information not currently reflected for a particular port or preclearance location to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “Satisfactory Departure Procedures” or “NIE Request Procedures.