In March 2020, former President Trump issued presidential proclamations that restrict entry to the U.S. to people who:
- Were physically present in the Schengen Area region during the 14-day period prior to their entry in the U.S.
- Were physically present in the UK or Ireland during the 14-day period prior to their entry in the U.S.
In July 2020, the Department of State allowed certain categories of travelers such as (B-1 visitors, E-1 treaty traders, E-2 investors, academics, and students) to apply for a National Interest Exception. The purpose of the National Interest Exception is to help the U.S. with the economic recovery due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are applying for the NIE under the B-1, E-1, o E-2 category, you will need to demonstrate that your entry in the U.S. will substantially benefit the U.S. economy.
On January 18, 2021 former president Trump issued a proclamation that terminated the travel bans from March and the termination was to be affective on January 26, 2021. Given the fact that the Covid cases are still rising in the countries that were affected by the original proclamation, on January 25, 2021 president Biden issued a new proclamation that restricts entry of people who were physically present in Schengen area region, UK, Ireland, Brazil, or South Africa.
You can apply for a NIE either at a U.S. Consulate abroad or you can apply for a NIE at a Port of Entry. Please see our blog post about this topic when you click here.
Many Consulates provide estimated timelines as to how long it will take them to adjudicate NIE requests, either on their websites or through email after you submit a request. It has been our experience that we usually hear back from the Consulate within a few days, but the response time depends on the individual Consulate and we have also seen situations where a person submitted a NIE request to the Consulate and he/she has not heard back from the Consulate for a few weeks.
It has also been our experience that when applying for a NIE through a CBP Port of Entry, they are usually responsive within a day or two. That being said, we recently had a case when we submitted a NIE request to a Port of Entry, and it has been 2.5 weeks and we still have not heard back. Because the timing as to when you will hear back from the Consulate/CBP office is uncertain, many people are wondering if it will be faster to travel to a country that is not on a list of restricted countries (e.g. Croatia, Turkey, Mexico, Bahamas, etc), spend 14 days there, and then enter the U.S. Because the Consulates and CBP offices never guarantee any timeline, in some cases it may indeed be faster to go this route.
Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- You should check the entry requirements of the country you are planning to spend 14 days in to see if the country is allowing third country nationals to enter. Additionally, you may need to present negative Covid test when you enter or be willing to self-quarantine.
- When entering the U.S. from a third country, you cannot have a connecting flight in a country that is on the travel ban list (e.g. if you spend 14 days in Croatia, but then fly through for example London, you would be denied an entry to the U.S.).
- You should spend 14 full days in the third country (not counting the day of arrival and day of departure).
- When entering the U.S, you should present evidence such as entry/exit stamp from the third country, flight ticket, hotel/car reservation to demonstrate that you have spent 14 days in the third country.
- You will need a negative Covid test when entering the U.S., that is not older than 3 days (or proof that you recovered from the virus in the past 90 days). You should schedule an appointment for this while you are in the third country.
- You may need to self-quarantine after you come to the U.S. and you should check the CDC website and the state and local health department websites.
The following countries are currently on the list of restricted countries:
- Schengen area countries
- UK and Ireland
- South Africa
Please click here to find out if you can apply for a NIE with ESTA.
Please click here to find out whether NIE denial will impact your future visa applications.
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