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State Department Expands National Interest Exception

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On July 6, 2021, the Department of State expanded National Interest Exception rules, effectively immediately. Previously, NIE were valid for 30 days and single entry only. With the new expansion, NIE’s are now issued with a 12 month validity and multiple entry.

Please click here to learn more about National Interest Exceptions.

This expansion will apply to the following countries and regions:

Individuals who are eligible to apply for NIE include journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs; those who provide vital support; and immigrants; and fiancés of U.S. citizens.

This new expansion applies to new NIE’s that are issued in the future and ones that have been previously issued. Individuals who were issued an NIE by a consulate or embassy within the last year and seek to enter the United State for the same purpose should be able to use that NIE for travel until the one-year expiration. Those who have NIE that were issued more than one year ago must apply for new NIE in order to travel if they reside in one of the travel banned countries.

Travelers in categories described above who have a valid visa in the appropriate class or who have a valid ESTA authorization for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and seek to travel for purposes consistent with ESTA authorization, should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may be qualified.  If a NIE is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization.

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