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

Following the global systems-wide “crash” of the State Department’s (DOS) Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) (a system critical to visa issuance operations), there have been widespread delays in nonimmigrant visa issuance worldwide. As a result, in conjunction with the DOS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated that in order to ease the situation, it will exercise its legal authority to waive nonimmigrant visa requirements for admission on a case-by-case basis.

CBP and DOS have provided the following information regarding the procedures that are being put in place to assist individuals who have applied for but have not been issued nonimmigrant visas due to ongoing CCD problems:

=> A nonimmigrant visa applicant whose U.S. travel is urgent because it either involves an "emergency" or impacts U.S. national interests, may request consideration for special travel permission to the United States if their visa issuance is delayed as a result CCD systems problems.

"Emergencies" in this instance 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.

=> DOS and CBP joint task force teams will confer on a 24/7 basis, regarding individual emergency travel requests in order to process such requests as expeditiously as possible.

=> Travel permission, if approved jointly by DOS and CBP, will be facilitated by DOS. 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 execute an I-193 application to waive the nonimmigrant visa requirement for admission. This will include waiving the $585 processing fee for the I-193.

=> Individuals requesting emergency travel must have a pending visa application with DOS, and the visa must be issuable but for CCD system problems. Applicants who have been issued a 221(g) notice indicating pending administrative processing on their visa applications are not eligible to request emergency travel accommodations.

=> DOS may not directly inform visa applicants whether or not the delay in visa issuance is the result of CCD problems. Those who have emergency U.S. travel needs should affirmatively communicate with DOS to provide proof of their circumstances. This can occur during the visa interview, or through e-mails after visa appointments to consular mailboxes or facilitation centers (whichever is the preferred method of communication for each individual consular post, as stated on its website).

=> If a request for emergency travel is not approved and facilitated by DOS, CBP strongly discourages petition-based applicants from traveling to the United States of their own accord using a visitor's visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration. CBP sent guidance to all ports of entry regarding the above-referenced procedures and will only consider CCD-related I-193 waiver through its joint interface with DOS. Individual requests made at ports of entry will be referred back to DOS. If an applicant is found to have previously requested travel permission that was not granted by DOS, it will be a significantly negative factor and could result in denial of the applicant's I-193 request.

VIA +AILA National

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