National Interest Exception Criteria for Travelers from COVID-19-Restricted Countries

June 15, 2021

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

On May 27, 2021, the Department of State expanded the National Interest Exception (NIE) criteria for individuals subject to proclamations restricting travel to the United States due to physical presence in China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Qualified travelers who can apply and qualify for NIEs include those “who are seeking to provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure; those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs; immigrants; and fiancés.”

Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) may travel to the United States following the procedures summarized in the notice, which also provides information for F-1 or M-1 students and on NIEs for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response and national security.

Travelers requiring a visa stamp and/or NIE should review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for further instructions specific to the post.