National Interest Exception
With specific exceptions, travelers who have been in the Schengen area in the 14 days prior to U.S. entry are not allowed to enter the US (Proclamation PP 9993). There are however exceptions that make it possible to travel to the US despite the travel ban.
For the past weeks the US Embassies/Consulates have been issuing National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for travelers with valid visas, travelers that need to apply for a visa and travelers who do not require a visa such as ESTA travelers.
Travelers with visas and travelers who do not require a visa can apply for a National Interest Exception if they fall in the following categories: urgent medical treatment, public health, humanitarian and national security reasons and certain students and academics. Also, economic (technical experts and specialists, senior-level managers and executives, professional athletes) and investors and dependents.
Update for the economic category as of March 2, 2021:
The Secretary of State rescinded the previous national interest determination regarding several categories of travelers in the economic category. Certain technical experts and specialists, senior-level managers and executives, treaty-traders and investors, professional athletes, and their dependents are no longer eligible to obtain a NIE.
The Secretary of State also made a new national interest determination covering certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure. Travelers in this category may still qualify for the NIE.
No previously-issued visas or NIEs will be revoked due to the new policy.
VisaVersa will be organizing a webinar on Friday March 12th to discuss these recent changes to the NIEs and the many questions this has generated with our clients. This free webinar will be at 14.00. Please register for this event at Eventbrite.
For travelers who require a visa and a national interest exception the situation is more complicated. Until complete resumption of routine visa services, applicants could be processed for a visa interview appointment if the applicant appears to be eligible for an exception under the applicable Proclamation(s). Applicants who are subject to any of the Proclamations, but who believe they may qualify for a NIE or other exception, could request an emergency appointment and should provide specific details as to why they believe they may qualify for an exception. While a visa applicant subject to one or more Proclamations might meet an exception, the applicant must first be approved for an emergency appointment request and a final determination regarding visa and NIE eligibility will be made at the time of visa interview.
VisaVersa has been successfully assisting companies and individuals in obtaining a National Interest Exception (NIE) at various embassies and consulates in Europe including Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Frankfurt. Please contact us for more information if you believe you may be eligible for the NIE.