Update: 24 March 2021
In previous years, religious workers coming to the United States holding an R-1 visa needed the help of NAMMA to gain an endorsement letter from the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) to apply for a TWIC® (Transportation Worker Identification Credential). The TWIC program provides a tamper-resistant biometric credential to maritime workers requiring unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities.
In March 2021, the MARAD endorsement letter is no longer required. Rather, a letter from your organization, seafarers’ center, or NAMMA itself is also permitted. Please contact NAMMA for a letter template (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In line with R-1 requirements and processes published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the prospective or existing U.S. employer who filed a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of the applicant to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant minister, or a religious worker in a religious vocation or occupation, may be best positioned to draft the sponsorship letter for a TWIC®.
Updates to the UES enrollment requirements and workflows are in progress, but remain incomplete, at this time. TSA’s enrollment provider develops and implements changes to the site based on prioritized change requests from TSA. Until the developers update the site, the legacy MARAD sponsorship letters option will remain visible.
In mid-March 2021, TSA and the provider required all enrollment agents to complete a training on changes to the process. This training specified that MARAD sponsorship letters are no longer provided to TWIC applicants with F-1, J-1and R-1 nonimmigrant visa categories. In order to enroll, TWIC® applicants with F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant visas must provide a letter on academy letterhead, in lieu of the sponsorship letter. Applicants with R-1 visas must provide a letter from their organization. The letter should confirm academy enrollment or organization employment and recommend that the applicant be issued a TWIC upon successful completion of the TSA Security Threat Assessment (STA).
Until the site changes are implemented, note that TSA is transitioning its enrollment guidance and process to reflect the changes in the sponsorship letter process. Where MARAD no longer issues sponsorship letters to TWIC® applicants with an R-1 nonimmigrant visa, TSA enrollment agents have been instructed to scan the organization letter in lieu of a MARAD letter.
Please contact TWIC.Issue@tsa.dhs.gov or please call 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371) 8am – 10pm Eastern, Monday – Friday with issues related to enrollment and sponsorship letters.