10 Feb 2021

United States

U.S. State Department Announces National Interest Exceptions to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

President Biden signed a Proclamation on January 25, 2021 that restricts the entry of noncitizen travelers to the U.S. from the Schengen Area (European Union), the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa. U.S. CBP officers will deny entry to international travelers who were present in one of those countries within the preceding 14 days. 

On January 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced that H-2A and H-2B travelers from South Africa who are necessary to the economy and food supply chain security may be eligible for a National Interest Exception (NIE) to the Proclamation. 

On February 10, 2021, additional NIEs were announced for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. Students traveling from these countries are permitted to travel to the U.S. if they possess a valid F-1 or M-1 visa, and those applying for new F-1 or M-1 visas will automatically be considered for an NIE.  

Business travelers and other nonimmigrants must contact a U.S. embassy or consulate to request an NIE. The U.S. Department of State has expressed an interest in granting NIEs to assist with the U.S.’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to bolster the U.S.’s relationship with its European allies. 

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