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Do I Still Need an NIE to Come to the U.S.? Q&A

By September 29, 2021COVID-19, Immigration, News
map, camera, laptop, pair planning out a trip

On Monday September 20, 2021, the Biden administration announced that starting early November, fully vaccinated travelers from the UK, Ireland, Schengen area countries, India, China, Brazil, and South Africa will be again allowed to come to the U.S. This is a welcomed change by many foreign nationals who have not been able to come to the U.S. unless they qualified for a National Interest Exception (“NIE”).

Below we have summarized some common questions that we have received about the new guidance.

I want to come to the U.S. in September/October 2021, do I still need a NIE?

Yes. Until the current travel restrictions are lifted and the new guidance comes into effect (the government has not announced the exact date yet, but it will be sometimes in the beginning of November), you will still need an NIE to come to the U.S.

Do I have to be fully vaccinated?

Yes, under the new guidance, only foreign nationals from the countries listed above who have been fully vaccinated and have a negative Covid test that was taken not more than 3 days before the flight will be allowed to come to the U.S.

I am applying for a visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. What will change after the new policy comes into effect?

Once the new policy comes into effect, you will no longer need a National Interest Exception for your visa to be approved. If you have an interview before the current guidance is lifted and the new goes into effect, you will still need to show that you qualify for the NIE, otherwise the Consulate will not issue you the visa.

Also, many visa applicants who did not qualify for the NIE before may now start booking  appointments at Consulates, so it may be more difficult to get a visa interview. Therefore, if you plan to apply for a visa, you should book your appointment as soon as possible.

Will I be able to apply for a tourist visa now?

Many Consulates were not issuing tourist visas while the travel restrictions were in place as tourists could not qualify for the NIE. The Consulates will most likely resume tourist visa appointments, but you may an extended period of time for an interview as the Consulates may still have limited availability.

If you will be applying for an NIE before the new policy comes into effect, click here to read our blog post on Current NIE Trends.

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