National Interest Exception Waiver

Are you eligible for a National Interest Exception to the US Travel Ban?

A National Interest Exception waiver grants an individual authorization to travel to the USA under an exemption to the US travel ban.

Travel restrictions to the US are currently in place by Presidential Proclamation, and will remain effective indefinitely until withdrawn by President Biden.

The ban applies to non-US travelers who have been present in certain European countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil, China or Iran within 14 days of their arrival into the US and who are not exempt under the proclamation.

NNU Immigration are here to help!

At NNU Immigration, our London-based US immigration attorneys have developed specific expertise in National Interest Exception waiver applications.

We are currently advising business owners, companies and key employees on NIE eligibility requirements and the application process to secure a waiver to allow travel to the US.

If your need to travel to the US has become critical, take professional advice to ensure you are making the right application and putting forward the strongest case for your circumstances.

With substantial knowledge and experience of waiver applications, we guide applicants through the application process and support with compiling the documentation to evidence eligibility.

Whether you can travel visa-free under ESTA or require a visa, we will guide you through the NIE process, and liaise as required with US agencies and officials and travel operators to ensure your travel plans run smoothly.

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National Interest Exception Waiver FAQs

What are the current US travel restrictions?

The latest Presidential Proclamation restricting travel to the US was passed on January 25, 2021 by President Biden.

The ban applies to non-US nationals who have been in one of the following countries within 14 days of travel to the US: European Schengen countries, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, India, Brazil, China and Iran.

The Schengen zone countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City.

There is no date for the ban to expire, and it will remain in place until withdrawn by President Biden.

Who is exempt from the US travel ban?

The ban does not apply to:

  • US citizens and nationals
  • US lawful permanent residents
  • Foreign nationals who are the spouse or children of US citizens or lawful residents
  • Foreign nationals entering on an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa from Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom
  • Foreign nationals who are the parent or legal guardian of an unmarried US citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 21
  • Foreign nationals who are the child, foster child or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the
  • United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
  • Foreign nationals who are the sibling of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, where both are under 21
  • Foreign nationals seeking to enter the US at the invitation of the US government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the COVID-19 virus
  • Members of the US armed forces and their spouses and children
  • Foreign air or sea crewmembers
  • Certain A, C, E-1 (TECRO or TECO employees), G, and NATO nonimmigrants
  • Foreign nationals whose presence in the US would be in the national interest (see below), or would advance US law enforcement objectives

Who is eligible for travel under the National Interest Exception?

A ‘212(f) waiver’ to the Proclamation exempts individuals who can show they qualify for travel that is in the ‘national interest’. Currently, this includes “travellers providing vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States” under a B-1 visa, ESTA, E-2 visa, E-1 visa, L-1, O-1 and H-1B visa workers, as well as academics, students, and journalists, as well as fiancé(e)s of US citizens and their dependents (K visas).

This list is not exhaustive, and with the rules on NIE waiver eligibility subject to frequent change, our US attorneys can advise whether you would qualify based on your specific circumstances.

How do you apply for a National Interest Exception?

To apply for a National Interest Exception waiver, you will need to evidence that it is in the US national interest that you are exempt from the ban and as such should be permitted to enter the US. This will require you to provide supporting documentation to prove your case.

What are the National Interest Eligibility requirements?

Eligibility requirements vary by visa route and applicants are encouraged to take professional advice prior to making a waiver application to ensure they meet the criteria and evidence this within their application.

We have provided extensive NIE application guidance for business travelers here and L-1 and H-1B visa holders here.

What happens if you are granted an NIE?

If you are successful in being granted an NIE waiver, your visa will be marked with the following wording: “NIE under P.P. on Novel Coronavirus”.

The National Interest Exception waiver is valid for a single entry and must be used to gain entry within 30 days of issue.

Even with an entry waiver, admission into the US remains at the discretion and determination of CBP border officials, and travelers may be subject to additional measures such as quarantine requirements.

Can you travel to the US under ESTA?

ESTA eligible travelers are still able to travel to the US provided they are exempt from the ban by for example securing an NIE authorizing travel.

Travelers to the US must also ensure they comply with all other relevant regulations for travel and entry to the US, such as requiring a negative COVID test.

Do you need help with a national interest waiver?

Speak to one of our experts!

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