March 24, 2020

Congressman Neguse Supports Effort to Waive Repatriation Fees for Coloradans Stuck Abroad

Washington D.C.—With thousands of Americans stranded abroad due to travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, including countless Coloradans, Congressman Joe Neguse is supporting an effort to  waive fees for travelers who require evacuation assistance from the U.S. Department of State.  

“We have heard from countless Coloradans who amidst the COVID-19 pandemic are unable to leave certain affected areas due to closed borders, movement restrictions, mandatory quarantines, and canceled flights,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “It is unconscionable that our government would foist enormous travel fees on stranded Americans who are desperate to get home. We cannot abandon our fellow Americans overseas, many who are cut off from their families and using what resources they have left to cover the costs of unplanned extended stay in a foreign country. I implore the State Department to take comprehensive action to help all Americans get home immediately and to waive repatriation fees immediately.”

On Friday, Congressman Neguse led 65 of his colleagues in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express deep concern over the lack of assistance being provided by the State Department to American citizens stranded abroad as they try to return home to the United States. Read the letter here. 

Currently, travelers who use Department of State flights to return to the United States have to sign a promissory note indicating their intent to pay the cost of a full-fare economy flight or comparable alternate transportation. In some cases, Americans have reportedly been obligated to commit to paying over $1,400 for a seat on these coordinated flights. Current law requires private citizens to reimburse costs related to this coordinated travel. Until your loan is paid in full, you and anyone for whose evacuation loan you are financially responsible may be denied a regular U.S. passport.

“Whether it is a student studying abroad, someone on business travel, or simply a family on vacation, many of our fellow Americans are finding themselves caught in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Velázquez, the lead sponsor of the bill said. “This bill will help them get home safely and securely without undue financial hardship. It is my hope that this bill’s introduction moves the State Department to take steps on its own to remedy this problem.” 

A copy of the bill is online here.