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Can I apply for National Interest Exception(NIE) while in USA?

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.

Guidance on Applying NIE by US Embassy India
Guidance on Applying NIE by US Embassy 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.

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.

Apply NIE while in US - Guidance by US Consulate
Apply NIE while in US – Guidance by US Consulate

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

NIE request guidance by US Consulate in Italy
NIE request guidance by US Consulate in Italy

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

NIE Applicants instructions US Consulate Austria
NIE Applicants instructions US Consulate Austria

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.

You may also read How to apply for Emergency Appointment in India

   

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28 Comments

  1. Hello All,
    I have a drop box appoint for Oct 5th (Tuesday). I will be landing in India Oct 4th (Monday)
    Is it fine if my attorney emails my NIE letter to me when I’m physically present in the US (week prior) or does the letter have to be dated for a day i’m present in India ?

    Reply
  2. The German embassies allow for Online NIE application even when in a third-country (not US, not DE). Has anyone any experience with this?

    Reply
    • Clara,
      I have not see anyone share this. Most of the time, they ask for the applicant to be present in the country related to the consulate you are planning to apply to. It is best to write to the consulate and confirm. Do share your feedback here on how it goes for community benefit.

      Reply
  3. Hi,
    I have an approved O1a application( but no stamp) , I recently switched from an H1b to O1 so do not have a stamp.
    I have to travel to India in October but I am unable to finalize any interview slots across India. I am a physician working with COVID 19 patients directly so I think I will be eligible for the NIE but any suggestions on how to get a visa appointment?
    I even filled out the DS form for Canada, but there are no interview slots till Aug 2022.

    Reply
  4. I have a valid Visa stamping till next September. Can I apply for NIE, while staying in US ?

    I have plans to go to India in November. Please let me know

    Reply
  5. For those in US and can not apply for NIE from US, can we take a letter from our employer stating we are critical worker to the visa interview directly?

    Reply
  6. Hello

    I am having valid L1B visa. I am planning to go for NIE. Can you please clarify on below ?
    1) If my NIE is approved for 1 year, will it have any impact on initially provided L1B visa expiry ?

    2) Can I apply NIE for my spouse (having valid L2)?

    Reply
  7. Hi,
    I’m a H1B visa holder and I got my stamping done recently but I don’t have NIE approved
    , I got married recently and now my wife who is also a H1B visa holder got her stamping done and got her NIE approved. What should I do if I want to travel with my wife to the USA? Do I need to apply for NIE or am I good to go with my wives NIE?

    Reply
    • elaine,
      Retail store may not fall under NIE. Usually, your job has to be supporting critical sector. You can try to email the consulate and see, if you want to give it a shot.

      Reply
    • Ninad,
      Very few options. You could try to get stamping in Canada or other Third Country, if available. Even after you get stamping, to return to US, you need NIE from the consulate that issued visa to travel back.

      Reply
  8. Hi Kumar,
    I have a valid O1 visa. Now I’m in France, and I sent in all documentation for applying NIE on July 28th. It’s August 20th now. I still haven’t heard anything from the embassy in Paris. I need to come back in the US as soon as possible for my upcoming performance.

    I have a question,
    Is it ok to wait NIE’s approval notice in Mexico?
    Because I was thinking might I can be able to come back in the US either way,
    1, spending 14 days in Mexico then coming back to US.
    2, If I receive the notice during I stay in Mexico before spending 14 days, I use NIE to come back to The US.

    So, I should start countdown of the 14days in Mexico.
    Do you think this is a good idea? Or I should stay here in France until I receive the notice?
    I’d like to hear your opinion.

    Thank you,

    Takeshi

    Reply
  9. I am under e2 visa. My father just died in france and my wife is having medical treatment in the us,
    If I go to france to close my father business, could I come back to my place in Florida to be with my wife

    Reply
    • Joh-Pierre,
      Very sorry to hear about your loss.
      Well, you coming back is based on the NIE and if your current work falls under that. If you do not fall under NIE, it can be tricky. talk to your company attorney.

      Reply
  10. Hi, I’m currently in US on H1B status. My spouse and kid( First time stamping) are in India and we got visa appointment slot for Aug 25 n 26. Do they need to take any NIE kind of letter written by me, mentioning the family separation for the smooth process of their stamping. Could you pls help me with documents ?

    Reply
    • What do you mean by NIE kind of letter ? NIE is required during travel not for interview. Once VISA is approved NIE will be annoted in the visa itself. Just in case if not, send an email.

      Reply
  11. Hi , I am currently working in USA on H1b status. My family members has H4 visa currently in India. My family members are planning to join with me soon. Do i need to apply for NIE ? Can my family members travel directly. Please advice.

    Reply
  12. Hi Kumar
    I need to apply NIE for my in laws (humanitarian grounds to support my wifes medical condition)
    Can I include details of both my in laws in one email?
    Is it ok to attach supporting document from hospital/doctor to email?

    Reply
    • Laxman,
      You can definitely try. Not sure, if they would allow both of them. You can email and try. There are no data points on this or experiences from users.
      yes, you can attach and send. Do update how it goes.

      Reply
    • Hi Laxman,
      I am in the same boat as you, need to get my parents here and thinking to apply on humanitarian grounds.

      Please do update how it goes with NIE approval. Good luck!

      Thanks
      Shaila

      Reply
  13. Hi sir,

    My h1b is selected in 2nd lottery, I am currently in Chennai , how to get interview slots in Chennai? how to apply for NIE?

    Reply
  14. Respected Sir,
    I have uploaded the required documents and pay the fees & for B2 visa while planning to visit U.S.A. The appointment dates are not available, and the appointment will be lapse in the month of March 2022.
    Kindly let us know what happened to the above case?
    Thanking you.
    With Regards.
    A K Das .
    +919701347069.
    India.

    Reply
    • Ashok,
      NIE is not given for B2 at the moment. The receipt is valid until Sep 2022. You can wait for the guidance and book when slots open up.

      Reply
  15. I have a Dropbox appointment, and the company I work for is eligible for NIE, so how do iI apply for NIE during the dropbox appointment

    Reply
    • varun,
      You would submit the NIE letter and documentation, when you go for the dropbox appointment. You should email the consulate to confirm on the NIE by emailing them the NIE justification. Check NIE process

      Reply

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