As most of you know, there is a travel ban in place for someone traveling to the US from countries like China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Europe / Schengen Area, UK, and Ireland. On April 30th, Biden signed proclamation that banned Travelers from India to US as well. Though the COVID situation seems to be improving in certain countries with more vaccination or slowdown in cases, there is no change in the travel ban situation.
Many individuals stuck in the US want to travel to their home country that is part of the travel ban list and come back to America. The big question many have in mind is, if can they apply for National Interest Exception(NIE) before they travel to their home country, while in the US and get a decision. Many would like to know what is the official guidance on applying for NIE, when still in the US. In this article, we will clarify the same with guidance from US consulates .
Background : What is NIE ? How to Apply for NIE ?
NIE stands for National Interest Exception. When there is a travel ban to US for a country in place (based on presidential proclamation), individuals either need to be exempt from the proclamation or fall under National Intereste Exceptions(NIE) to travel to US. The NIE criteria is defined by US Dept of State. Read How to Apply for National Interest Exception(NIE) for process and more info.
Can I apply for NIE from USA ? US Consulates Guidance ?
US Consulates have given clear guidance saying that you cannot apply for National Interest Exception(NIE) when you are physically present in the US. So, technically, you should not apply for NIE, when you are in the US. You can only apply for NIE after you leave the US and you are physically present in the country, where you are applying NIE with US consulate. Let’s look at the official guidance from US Consulates around the world.
Guidance on applying NIE on US Embassy India Website
US Embassy India has clear guidance on their NIE FAQs page that talks about this. It says that they cannot “pre-adjudicate NIEs for applicants currently not in India”. This means that they cannot make any decision on NIE, if you are not physically in India. Basically, you cannot apply from the US or any other country. You need to be physically present in India.
US Embassy Official Account Tweet – NIE can be applied only from India
Below is the official US Embassy Account tweet that confirms saying that they cannot pre-adjudicate NIEs for applicants who are not in India. You can only apply for NIE after you arrive in India.
Tip: The US Embassy or Consulates cannot pre-adjudicate NIEs for applicants who aren’t currently in India. This means that you’ll need to apply for the NIE after you arrive in India. #USVisas— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) September 9, 2021
Guidance on applying NIE from US Consulate Chennai in India
As per a document that was given by US Consulate in Chennai for an applicant, whose visa was approved under NIE, they cannot approve NIE request for someone physically present in the US. Below is the screenshot of the document. If you look closely at the highlighted section in green, it says “A National Interest Exception cannot be approved for individuals who are currently in the United States“. This sentence is pretty clear and tells that you cannot apply for NIE, while you are in the US. The below slip was given in July 2021.
Guidance on applying NIE from US Consulate Italy
As per US Consulate in Italy, they also say the same thing stating that they would not accept NIE requests, if you are physically present in the US. Here is the exact sentence : ” The Embassy and Consulates cannot accept NIE requests for individuals who are currently physically present in the United States.” You can check US Consulate Italy NIE Guidance FAQs
Guidance on applying NIE from US Consulate Austria
As per US Consulate in Austria, they say that you need to physically present in Austria to apply for NIE. The exact statement is, ” NIE applicants must be legal residents and physically present in Austria.” Technically, what it means is that you cannot apply for NIE, when you are physically present outside of Austria, which includes US as well. See below screenshot and check US Consulate Austria NIE Guidance
Someone I know applied for NIE while in USA, and got it approved. Can I take a chance ?
We have seen few users in social media groups say that they were able to apply for NIE while in USA and get it approved. But, what we do not know at this point is what happend with them at Visa Interviews or at US Port of Entry processes, when trying to enter US. Also, we dont know, what impact it may have in the future…The guidance tells clearly that you should apply for NIE, when you are physically present in the country, where you are applying for NIE.
Some may argue that how will the consulate know, if you are in US or your home country when you are applying for NIE…These are all loop holes that some may try to exploit and eventually may end up in trouble. In general, you should not do anything is againist the guidance. So, in short, do NOT apply for NIE, when you are physically in the US. Always check with your attorney and the US Consulate before you take any decision on the same.
What has been your experience with applying NIE at Consulate ? How long did it take ? Did you apply when you were in the US ? Share your thoughts and experiences in comments.
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