Many of our clients at Oakhurst Legal Group are athletes who have obtained Presidential Exemptions from travel restrictions. On January 25, 2021, we received notice from the OFO Coronavirus Coordination Cell of U.S. Customs and Border Protection honoring 212(f) waivers from the previous administration.
212(f) waivers allow athletes to be exempt from travel restrictions and travel to the United States from Covid-19 restricted countries. Athletes can also use 212(f) waivers to obtain expedited visa interviews worldwide.
If you receive a 212(f) athlete waiver, you have clearance to travel to the United States from the OFO Coronavirus Coordination Cell in accordance with the National Interest Exemption From Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 9996 Regarding Novel Coronavirus for Certain Professional Athletes and Their Essential Staff and Dependents.
Biden’s Updates to the 212(F) Waiver Program
Previously, 212(f) waivers lasted for a year and supported multiple entries. With a new acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, the program works differently. Updates to the 212(f) waiver program under the Biden administration include:
- Waivers are only good for a single entry and are limited to 30 days from issuance.
- Travelers who depart the United States and need to return must apply for a new waiver.
- U.S. Customs now requires passenger itineraries when available to ensure travelers are observing the 30-day period.
- The new CDC Travel Guidelines apply to those with 212(f) waivers – all international travelers must present a negative Covid-19 test within 3 days of travel, get tested 3-5 days after travel, and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
Every trip to the United States requires athletes to obtain waivers and follow travel guidelines, which means individuals and organizations alike must plan ahead for sporting events and all other international travel.
How the 212(F) Waiver Works
The person who requests the 212(f) waiver will receive an email notification from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This is the only document that Customs will provide, and the information is not listed publicly. As such, the requesting organization should issue a letter to the traveler explaining the waiver and outlining instructions for compliance.
If travelers run into difficulties, have questions, or require additional information about using the waiver for entry, instruct them to contact a Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG) Representative via the airport carrier they are using. Each airline has an RCLG Representative who can communicate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection directly. In many cases, Customs and RCLG have physical locations in major European, Asian, and Latin American airports meaning the RCLG Representative can provide quicker assistance than the Coronavirus Coordination Cell.
You can expedite visa appointments by sharing the issuance of your 212(F) waiver in the appointment expedite function of the appointment portal.
If you have any questions on how to obtain a Presidential Sports Exemption or travel or expedite your visa appointment using the 212(f) waiver, please contact Oakhurst Legal Group at (704) 288-1003 or online.