Help for Constituents Stuck Abroad
In recent days, my office has spoken to many constituents who were traveling abroad and have been stranded due to COVID-19 lockdowns in other countries. I want to share important guidance for what to do if you or someone you care about is temporarily unable to get home.
1) Register for the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov. Registering with STEP will let the Embassy in the country you are in know where you are located and how to contact you. The Embassy and State Department are also using STEP to count the number of citizens in localized areas so that they can gauge how many charter or commercial flights will be needed for repatriation. If you are somewhere with little internet access, consider asking a friend or relative back home to sign you up and send you updates over the phone. THIS IS CRITICAL TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE FROM THE UNITED STATES WHILE YOU ARE ABROAD.
2) If you or a loved one is located in a country where commercial flights are still operating, we encourage you to seek out all available options to return home as soon as possible. Many airline phone lines are overwhelmed so if possible, try to book online. Again, if you have limited internet access, consider having a trusted friend or family member book your flight and send you the details. I understand that it may be helpful to look for a flight from a local airport to an international airport, where there are flights to the United States offered.
3) If you or a loved one is in a country with no commercial flights available then please know that the US Department of State is working with in country officials to use every available method to charter flights to get U.S. citizens home. Embassies with use the information provided by STEP to create flight manifests. Embassies with then reach out via the contact information provided to STEP to let you know you have a place on flight and to confirm that you want it. Please DO NOT go to the airport until you are confirmed on a flight.
4) Consult Embassy websites as well as their social media for the most recent updates
5) My office is also keeping a list of all of our constituents stranded abroad so that we can assist in any way possible. If you or a loved one is stuck abroad, please email their name, email, phone number and current location to Betsy Schmid in my office at Betsy.Schmid@mail.house.gov
6) Embassies and Consulates are making repatriation of citizens their highest priority. In light of this, please be advised that most posts have ceased regular visa interviews and other visa processing for the time being. This means if you had a non-immigrant visa application processing, it will likely be delayed while repatriation efforts are under way. If you are in need of emergency citizen or visa services, please first email the embassy directly and CC Betsy Schmid (Betsy.Schmid@mail.house.gov), and we will do all we can to assist.