Today, the Department of State (DOS) announced that it has expanded the qualification criteria for travelers seeking to procure a National Interest Exception (NIE) in order to visit the U.S.. DOS expanded the qualification criteria by adding new categories of individuals who would be eligible to receive NIEs. These developments apply to travelers subject to the travel restrictions outlined in Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143.
In a statement, DOS identified the following new categories of travelers who are eligible to apply National Interest Exceptions:
Fiancé(e) visa holders, i.e. K-1;
Pilots and Air Crew Traveling for Training and Aircraft Pickup, Delivery, or Maintenance (traveling on B-1/B-2, B-1, M-1 visas, or Visa Waiver Program authorizations); and
Certain exchange visitor visa holders, i.e. persons with J visas (see categories below).
Eligible Categories under the Exchange Visitor Visa Program
Au pairs qualified to take care of children with special needs;
Au pairs who prevent individuals from becoming a public health charge, ward of the state or a medical or other publicly funded institution;
Au pairs looking after the children of medical practitioners who care for COVID-19 patients or medical researchers helping the U.S. to combat COVID-19;
Persons contributing to critical foreign policy objectives;
"Travel for an exchange program conducted pursuant to an MOU, Statement of Intent, or other valid agreement or arrangement between a foreign government and any federal, state, or local government entity in the United States that is designed to promote U.S. national interests if the agreement or arrangement with the foreign government was in effect prior to June 24, 2020.";
Interns and Trainees participating in U.S. government agency-sponsored programs which support the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States;
Specialized Teachers in Accredited Educational Institutions with a program number beginning with "G-5" on Form DS-2019;
Consistent with DOS's COVID-19 safety protocols, U.S. posts are currently prioritizing services for U.S citizens, as well as mission-critical and emergency services.
Any traveler who believes that he/she may qualify for an NIE should consult the nearest U.S. post to determine his/her eligibility and the post's ability to process his/her application.
As post-specific conditions improve, U.S. embassies and consulates will provide additional services, culminating in the eventual, complete resumption of routine visa services.
Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143
Under these Presidential Proclamations, admission to the U.S.A. is barred for persons who were present in any of the following countries in the 14 day period preceding their anticipated arrival in the U.S.: The people's Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Federative Republic of Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa.
These measures were implemented by the White House to protect the U.S. from various strains of the COVID-19 virus present in the aforementioned countries.
What are NIEs?
National Interest Exceptions authorize individuals to enter the U.S. for humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security, when those individuals would be otherwise ineligible for admission to the U.S.
NIE applications are processed by U.S. posts. NIE applicants can visit the relevant U.S. posts' websites to determine the application process and view the categories of travelers who qualify for NIEs.
NIEs are valid for one entry, for a maximum of thirty days. Furthermore, for each trip, an applicant must submit a new justification and will be issued a new NIE.
If you would like to apply for an NIE or discuss another immigration matter, contact us here.
We assist countless foreign nationals and we will be happy to personally assist you with your application as well. Send us an E-mail or call us at (888)354-6257. For reasons on why you should consult an immigration attorney whenever you have an immigration issue, see our page titled: Reasons Why it is Vital to Use an Immigration Lawyer.