On June 29, 2021, the US Department of State extended the validity of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for travelers subject to restrictions under current COVID-19 travel bans. Unless otherwise indicated, existing NIEs will now be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted.
Beginning in January 2020, and in response to the then intensifying COVID-19 pandemic, former-President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9984, which banned travel of most non-US citizen and non-legal permanent resident travelers from China. Subsequent Presidential Proclamations (Presidential Proclamation 9992 (Iran); Presidential Proclamation 10143 (Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa); and Presidential Proclamation 10199 (India)) extended the travel ban of most non-US citizen and non-legal permanent resident travelers from other regions. To date, most non-US citizen and non-legal permanent resident travelers from China, Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India are not permitted to enter the United States unless approved for an NIE.
National Interest Exceptions (NIE)
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Department of State has implemented various exceptions to the above-mentioned travel bans. In its current form, the qualifications for NIEs include:
- Those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction to critical infrastructure;
- Those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States;
- Travel due to extraordinary humanitarian circumstances;
- Travel in support of national security or public health.
Further, students holding F or M visas and travelers with immigrant or fiancé visas have been granted NIEs and do not need to obtain NIEs in advance from a consular section.
Extension of validity for National Interest Exceptions (NIE)
If granted an NIE, travelers were required to use the NIE within 30 days of approval and the NIE was valid for only a single entry. Now, however, NIEs will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted. This extension applies to travelers subject to the above-mentioned proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India who currently have approved NIEs or who were granted NIEs in conjunction with a visa application. The extension applies both retroactively to previously approved NIEs and to newly approved NIEs.
If an employee has not previously been approved for an NIE, please contact your Dentons attorney or paralegal so that they can contact the appropriate US embassy or consulate before the employee travels. If an NIE is approved, the employee may then travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate.
We will continue to monitor the implementation of this and other new requirements, keep abreast of any additions, and notify you of any material changes.