DOS and CBP Issue Procedures to Facilitate Travel for Visa Applicants Affected by CCD Outages

by Cohen & Grigsby, P.C
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Immigration

The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), a system critical to visa issuance operations, continues to experience technical problems, limiting the State Department’s ability to process and issue visas and causing widespread delays in nonimmigrant visa issuance worldwide. In conjunction with the DOS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated that, to ease the situation, CBP will waive nonimmigrant visa requirements for admission on a case-by-case basis.

If a nonimmigrant’s visa application is delayed because of a CCD systems problem, he/she may request consideration for special permission to travel to the United States without securing a visa stamp if such travel is urgent because it either involves an “emergency” or impacts U.S. national interests. “Emergencies” include urgent humanitarian travel and life-and-death situations. Upcoming business engagements and U.S. employment needs are not typically considered humanitarian emergencies and likely will not be considered as such in most cases.  They may, however, be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Upon approval of a request for special permission to travel, the consular post that accepted the visa application will release the traveler's passport and will issue a transportation letter, which can be presented to common carriers to allow boarding of international U.S.-bound flights. Upon arrival to a U.S. port of entry and presentation of the transportation letter, CBP will waive the nonimmigrant visa requirement for admission. 

Individuals requesting emergency travel must have a pending visa application with DOS, and the visa must be issuable but for CCD system problems. Applicants whose visa applications are subject to administrative processing are not eligible to request emergency travel accommodations. Those who have emergency U.S. travel needs should contact the DOS (using the preferred method of communication for each individual consular post, as stated on its website) to provide proof of their particular circumstances.

If you have any upcoming travel plans to apply for a new visa, please contact an attorney before confirming your plans.  If you have already applied for your visa but are experiencing a delay due to the CCD problem and have a bona fide emergency, please contact an attorney so that they can discuss proof of the bona fide emergency to present to the consular post.  If a consular post does not accommodate your emergency travel, we strongly advise against traveling to the United States using a visitor's visa or ESTA registration as an alternative.  An inadmissibility finding (or worse, an expedited removal order) could result in legal problems that are much more serious than any inconvenience associated with delayed U.S. travel.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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