In July 2020, the Department of State announced that certain business and student travelers coming from Schengen countries or the U.K. (such as B-1 business visitors), treaty traders, or treaty investors may apply for a National Interest Exception (“NIE”). The NIE allows such travelers to travel to the United States even with the travel bans remaining in effect.
Applying for a NIE when you already have a valid visa/ESTA
- Applying at a U.S. Consulate
If you already have a valid visa/ESTA and the Consulate approves your NIE application, the Consulate will most likely just send you a confirmation email that will indicate that your NIE was approved and some details about your travel (how many days you have to enter the U.S., which airports to fly through, and any additional information.
For example, the Consulate in Paris recommended that our client flies directly from Paris to the U.S. so it can assist with boarding the plane in case there are any last minute complications.
- Applying at the Port of Entry
When you are applying at a Port of Entry, each Port of Entry has its own very specific procedure.
For example, the CBP office at Newark airport sends a confirmation email to the NIE applicant that the application was approved. You should print this email when travelling to the U.S. in case you have any issues when boarding the plane.
Please read our blog post about applying for a NIE at a Port of Entry when you click here.
Applying for a NIE at the same time you are applying for your visa
If you are applying for a NIE at the same time as you are applying for your visa at a Consulate (e.g. you have an E-2 visa interview and at the same time you are applying for a NIE as you are located in one of the restricted countries), the Consulates usually add an annotation on the visa stamp indicating that your NIE was approved.
For example, the U.S. Consulate in London added the following annotation on an E-2 investor visa stamp “NIE under P.P. on Novel Coronavirus”. Additionally, you should bring any other documents you received from the Consulate that specify the NIE validity dates.
What documents should I bring when travelling? Any tips when travelling to the U.S.?
When travelling to the U.S. using the NIE, you should arrive to the airport couple hours earlier to make sure there are no issues with boarding the plane. If you applied for a NIE at a Consulate and you have issues to board the plane, you should contact the Consulate and they may be able to assist. If you applied for a NIE at a CBP port of entry and you have issues boarding the plane, you should contact the CBP office that approved your application (you should save the office’s phone number before you travel in case you need it). That being said, most of our clients describe travelling on the NIE as a smooth process and do not have any issued when boarding the plane.
Please note that the CBP officer at the border makes the final determination as to whether or not you will be admitted to the U.S.
Please click here to find out whether the U.S. Consulates abroad are processing E-2 visa applications.
Please click here to find out whether the fact that your NIE application was denied will affect your future visa applications.
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