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Biden Administration Continues Presidential Waivers for Combat Sports Organizations

On January 25, 2021 our law firm received correspondence from the OFO Coronavirus Coordination Cell of U.S. Customs and Border Protection which indicated 212(f) waivers were issued for several athletes made prior to January 21st. This was great news to our clients that have obtained Presidential Exemptions from travel restrictions as there was uncertainty whether the Biden Administration would continue to honor the Presidential Proclamations by the previous administration.

As a reminder, 212(f) waivers are exemptions issued directly from a special United States Customs and Border Protection that not only allows travel to the United States from Covid-19 restricted countries; these waivers are also the most consistent tool to obtain expedited visa interviews anywhere in the world.

Individuals that receive the 212(f) athlete waiver are cleared to travel to the US by the OFO Coronavirus Coordination Cell, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in accordance with the National Interest Exemption from Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 9996 signed by Chad Wolf, the former Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary.

Updates To 212(F) Waiver Program Under The Biden Administration

Under the previous administration, the Presidential waivers would last for a year and support multiple entries. This is no longer the case and the Biden Administration has made multiple changes to the 212(f) waiver program. Notable changes include the following:

This waiver is good for a single entry only and is limited to 30 days from issuance.

Should any of the travelers depart the United States and need to return, a new waiver needs to be applied for. CPB now also desires passenger itineraries when available to make sure the travelers are observing the 30-day period. The new CDC Travel Guidelines DO APPLY. (Negative COVID-19 test within 3 days of travel, Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.) How To Use The 212(F) Waiver To Travel And Expedite Appointments: The 212(f) Waiver is only an email notification from CBP to the designated person that is authorized to request the waiver. There is no other notification, letter, or online public listing of these waivers.

Best practices is for the organization that requested the waiver to issue a self prepared letter to the traveler that explains the waiver is issued and instructions to comply with the waiver. If the traveler(s) should have any questions or require additional information using the waiver for entry, please have the airport carrier they are using contact their Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG) Representative.

The RCLG has direct communication with CBP, who in many cases is physically located in the major airports of Europe, Asia, and Latin America and can provide quicker assistance than reaching out to the OCCC. For appointment expedites, it is most effective to articulate the issuance of the 212(f) in the appointment expedite function of the appointment portal. For more information on obtaining a Presidential Sports Exemption or using a 212(f) waiver to travel or expedite an interview, please do not hesitate to contact us.