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State Department Expands COVID Travel Ban Exceptions

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On April 28, The State Department expanded National Interest Exception to those travelling as students, journalists, and those providing vital support for critical infrastructure. This expansion applies to the following countries and regions:

Starting on April 26, foreign nationals from or residing in the above countries who fit into one of the following categories may apply for national interest exception.

Those Providing Vital Support for Critical Infrastructure

The Department of State has a strict definition of what is considered vital support and critical infrastructure. Vital support, for example, pertains to the installation, acquisition, maintenance, and essential safety training necessary to sustain the supply and production chains in the referenced sectors; as well as other functions performed by specialists or other individuals that are essential to continuity within a given sector.

The DHS-defined critical infrastructure sectors include: chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, transportation, and water/wastewater systems.

Foreign nationals holding H, L, O B, visa waivers, and other nonimmigrant business or work categories working in the above fields may apply.

This update also includes journalists, F and M students, and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs.

NIE can be applied for at a U.S. consulate abroad or at a CBP port of entry. For more information on how to apply for a NIE, please click here.

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