[UPDATE, 3:40 pm: In what is a rapidly evolving situation, there are now reports that Lufthansa is letting board a broader set of visa holders than their advisory indicates. This is welcome news. Hopefully other airlines will follow suit. Meanwhile, the concerns about what CBP is instructing airlines remain.]
Last night, Steve posted that “anyone with valid travel documents may board international Lufthansa flights bound for Boston–whether or not their entry into the United States is prohibited by President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration.” It seems, however, that the actual policy is not quite so far-reaching. Lufthansa’s website now says the following:
This travel ban does not apply to:
• Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) of the USA who also hold a passport issued by one of the 7 aforementioned countries
• Dual Nationals, holding and traveling with a valid passport issued by USA as well as a passport issued by one of the 7 aforementioned countries
• Dual Nationals holding and traveling with a valid passport issued by a third country as well as a passport issued by one of the 7 aforementioned countries
• Passengers with diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations and G-1 ,G-2 ,G-3 ,and G-4 visas
Affected passengers can request one free-of-charge rebooking or refund via the Lufthansa Service Center at +49 (0) 69-86-799-799 or one of our local Lufthansa phone numbers.
Lufthansa should be applauded for taking this step. But it seems to apply only to legal permanent residents, dual nationals, and a range of diplomatic workers. It still leaves stranded all those students, workers, and many others who had been issued valid visas prior to the EO. Reports indicate the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is telling airlines not to let those individuals on airplanes. And while this doesn’t violate the exact letter of the Boston court ruling, it certainly violates its spirit.
The order, which applies nationwide, covers all “holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, legal permanent residents, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, who absent the Executive Order, would be legally authorized to enter into the United States.” While the order does’t explicitly require that such individuals be allowed to board an airplane directed at the United States, it protects such individuals from being detained or returned. And it further requires CBP to notify airlines arriving at Logan Airport in Boston of the order, as well as the fact that individuals will not be detained or removed solely on the basis of the EO. In other words, thanks to the order, any students and workers with valid pre-EO visas that fly to the United States have to be let in, absent some alternative (non-EO-related) reason for keeping them ought. The fact that CBP is getting around this by telling airlines not to let them board is a cynical means of flouting what the court has ordered.
Image: Logan International Airport via Getty Images.