NIE Waiver Criteria Restricted for Work & Business Travel

On March 2, 2021, the US State Department announced a new policy restricting the eligibility criteria for national interest exceptions (NIE) waivers.

Under the new criteria, eligibility for work and business travel NIEs has been restricted to those “seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure”, a change from the previous requirement of “substantially contributing to the U.S. economy.”

The new policy took immediate effect, potentially impacting nonimmigrant workers and business travelers seeking to obtain a NIE under the regional bans on travel from the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland under the Presidential Proclamation 10143.

The following categories of travelers are now covered by the NIE:

  • Travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure
  • Academics, J-1 students and journalists
  • F-1 and M-1 student visa applicants will continue to be automatically be considered for an NIE.
  • Travelers for humanitarian purposes

The change in policy is intended to narrow eligibility for entry into the US by B, E, H, L, O and P visa applicants, as well those traveling for business under ESTA.

Travelers are advised to take legal advice on the impact of the change in criteria on eligibility to travel to the US for work or business.

Applicants with scheduled visa appointments may be contacted cancelling their appointment. Applicants will then need to ascertain they meet the new standards before rescheduling.

Any NIE’s already issued will not be affected by the change in regulation. The 30-day validity of the NIE for entry into the US continues to apply.

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration are a team of London-based US immigration attorneys. We are advising employers, entrepreneurs, investors, workers and other non-US nationals planning to travel or relocate to the US on the changes in US immigration policy and immigration rules under the new Administration. Please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.

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