DOS Provides Information on National Interest Exceptions for Regional COVID Proclamations

May 13, 2021

DOS announced that students and academics subject to proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143 due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021, or later. Per DOS, “Derivative family members accompanying a noncitizen who has been granted or would be reasonably expected to receive an NIE and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research lasting four weeks or more are also excepted.” In addition, DOS noted, “Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program, including optional practical training (OPT), starting August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to travel.”


May 12, 2021

DOS updated the categories of travelers whose entry to the United States has been determined by the DOS Secretary to be in the national interest for purposes of exceptions to geographic COVID presidential proclamations, including the April 30, 2021, proclamation suspending the entry of certain nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India. The list now includes students whose OPT begins August 1, 2021, or later, and travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure supply chains.


April 30, 2021

DOS Secretary made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under regional COVID proclamations, including the April 30, 2021, proclamation restricting the entry of nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India:

  • Immigrants (not applicable to the restrictions under the April 30, India Proclamation, which only covers nonimmigrant travel)
  • Fiancé(e)s
  • Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs. Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later.
  • Travelers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors.
  • Journalists
  • Pilots and aircrew traveling to the United States for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance, including individuals who are traveling to the United States on B-1/B-2, B-1, or M-1 visas, or Visa Waiver Program authorizations. This also include certain M-2 dependents when the principal’s necessary training is four weeks or more.
  • Certain exchange visitors
  • Derivative family members accompanying a noncitizen who is excepted from or otherwise not subject to the Proclamation and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research of four weeks or longer.

Per DOS, NIEs are also available to qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.


April 26, 2021

DOS Secretary made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19.

As a result of this determination, together with national interest determinations already in place, travelers subject to these proclamations, due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs, may now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE). Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later.


April 8, 2021

DOS announced that the travel of immigrants, fiancé(e) visa holders, certain exchange visitors, and pilots/aircrew traveling for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance is in the national interest for purposes of approving exceptions under the geographic proclamations restricting travel due to COVID-19 (9984, 9992, and 10143). These proclamations restrict the entry of individuals physically present, within the 14-day period prior to their attempted entry into the United States, in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Federative Republic of Brazil, or Republic of South Africa.


March 2, 2021

The DOS Secretary rescinded the previous national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamation 10143 as related to the Schengen Area, U.K., and Ireland. The previous NIE categories covered certain technical experts and specialists, senior-level managers and executives, treaty traders and investors, professional athletes, and their dependents. The secretary also made a new national interest determination covering certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure.


February 10, 2021

DOS announced that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, students, and journalists may qualify for national interest exceptions under the Presidential Proclamation covering travelers from the Schengen Area, the U.K., and Ireland.


October 1, 2020

DOS announced that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, students, and journalists from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland).


July 22, 2020

DOS announced that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland).


July 16, 2020

DOS announced that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland). Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request. DOS also continues to grant exceptions for qualified travelers for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20071733.