The Department of State (DOS) has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that DOS will need to approve any potential I-193 waiver applicant before he or she can apply at a U.S. port of entry. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is accepting I-193 Applications for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa for urgent travel to the U.S. for travelers affected by the DOS technical difficulties preventing visa issuance. Applicants will now be required to contact the embassy or consulate where they would have applied for the visa, or where the application is pending in cases where the interview has already taken place, and explain why they need to urgently travel without the visa. If the embassy or consulate agrees that the reason for travel is sufficiently urgent and the applicant is eligible (no criminal issues, immigration issues, etc.), the post will issue a travel letter, which then must be presented to CBP with the I-193 application.
Business cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, however DOS is prioritizing humanitarian cases.
It is important to note that anyone who has an application pending and requests his or her passport returned in order to travel to the U.S. using the I-193 waiver of visa, or to travel to a destination other than the U.S., will have the visa application refused under INA §221(g). DOS has advised AILA that the refusal will be treated as overcome once the visa is issued; however, the applicant will always be required to disclose the previous INA §221(g) refusal on all subsequent visa applications and on any future ESTA applications. DOS has also advised that the INA §221(g) refusal should not preclude ESTA travel when appropriate in future; however, this will be up to CBP to review in adjudicating the ESTA application.
Should you need additional information or have any questions, please contact our office.