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Volume XI, Number 213

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Administration Offers Exemption from Restrictions on Entry to Foreign Professional Athletes

To support the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 reopening policies, Chad F. Wolf, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, signed an order exempting some foreign professional athletes (and their staff and dependents) who compete in certain leagues, from the COVID-19 travel restrictions that are in place for 30 countries: China, Iran, Ireland, the U.K, and the 26 Schengen Zone countries.

The Acting Secretary stated, “In today’s environment, Americans need their sports. It is time to reopen the economy and it’s time we get our professional athletes back to work.”

The leagues identified include Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, the National Hockey League, the Association of Tennis Professionals, and the Women’s Tennis Association. DHS will work with those leagues to identify individuals who will be covered under this exemption.

This action falls under the “national interest” exemption found in all of the travel restriction proclamations exempting “any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security or their designees.” Individuals may be added or removed from the exemption based on “assessments of national interest, including the plans of the relevant professional sporting groups to support sporting events in the United States that do not cause an unnecessary risk to the public health.”

This order will not exempt the designated professional athletes from CBP inspection or other immigration requirements. However, it represents the first example of how the “national interest” exemption may be used. There are two other general exemptions found in all the travel restriction proclamations: one for individuals whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, the other for aliens whose entry would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the coronavirus.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume X, Number 150
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About this Author

Amy L. Peck, Immigration Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Worksite Compliance Lawyer
Principal

Amy L. Peck is a Principal in the Omaha, Nebraska, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She dedicates her practice exclusively to immigration law and worksite compliance, and she is Co-Leader of the firm's Immigration practice group.

Ms. Peck is one of 21 Directors elected to serve on the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Board of Governors. She currently is serving on the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council.

Ms. Peck is a member of the AILA National...

(402) 391-1991
Gregg E. Clifton, Collegiate Sports Attorney, Jackson Lewis, disciplinary hearings Lawyer
Office Managing Principal

Gregg E. Clifton is Office Managing Principal of the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as one of the editors of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major...

(602) 714-7044
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