Eligibility for US National Interest Waiver Expanded

The latest guidance from the US State Department has further expanded qualifying exceptions to the US travel ban.

One of the key exceptions now includes “travellers providing vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States.”

This expansion is a huge boost for individuals looking to travel to the US for work where their reason for travel relates to US-based business.

There are currently four presidential proclamations in force suspending entry into the US for non-US citizens who have been physically present in any of 33 countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Under the new guidance, entry into the US for the following travelers has been deemed to be in the national interest and as such, would qualify as exceptions to all four of the presidential proclamations restricting travel:

  • immigrants of all categories (not applicable to Proclamation 10199, which only covers nonimmigrant travel);
  • fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their dependents (K visas);
  • certain exchange visitors;
  • students (F, M, and certain J visas). New or returning students present in China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, or India may arrive
  • no earlier than 30 days before the start of an academic program beginning August 1, 2021 or after, including optional practical training (OPT);
  • academics (certain J visas to include those in the professor, research scholar, short-term scholar, or specialist categories);
  • journalists (I visas);
  • travelers providing executive direction or vital support for critical infrastructure sectors, or directly linked supply chains
  • travelers providing vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States
  • pilots and aircrew traveling for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance;
  • those whose purpose of travel falls within one of these categories:
    • lifesaving medical treatment for the principal applicant and accompanying close family members
    • public health for those travelling to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to continue ongoing research in an area with substantial public health benefit (e.g., cancer or communicable disease research)
    • humanitarian travel, to include those providing care for a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other nonimmigrant-in-lawful-status close family member
      • medical escorts, legal guardians, or other escorts required by an airline or legally required by a foreign medical or law enforcement entity accompanying a U.S. citizen being repatriated to the United States;
        national security; and
  • derivative family members accompanying or following to join a noncitizen who has been granted or would be reasonably expected to receive a National Interest Exception (NIE), or is not otherwise subject to the Proclamations and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research lasting four weeks or more.

US immigration advice

If you are planning travel to the US and believe you may qualify for a waiver under a national interest exemption, or if you do not believe you qualify yet have an urgent need to travel to the US, speak to our US immigration specialists to discuss your options.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.