Home » US Visa Stamping Experiences » National Interest Exception(NIE) Letter H1B, H4 : 18 Experiences, Travel

National Interest Exception(NIE) Letter H1B, H4 : 18 Experiences, Travel

As many of you know US has banned travelers from India, if they have spent 14 days in India before the travel. You can apply for US Visa or travel to US, only if you fall under exceptions for travel ban or fall under National Interest Exception(NIE). Also, even if you have visa stamped in passport, you need to email Consulate and get NIE in email before you fly.

Many of our readers, users on telegram groups (anonymous for privacy), who applied for NIE were kind enough to share their experiences and NIE Letter templates and guidance for H1B Visa, H4 Visa. Thanks a lot to all of them for sharing their NIE experiences with the community.

What is National Interest Exception (NIE) ? NIE Critical Infrastructure List ?

National Interest Exception (NIE) is nothing but an exception given by the US Dept of State that exempts individuals from the Presidential Proclamation. US Department of state gives the list of who all falls under NIE based on the US National Interest and humanitarian grounds. To get a full list of people who fall under NIE, and general process check the below articles.

Once you get NIE, you need to travel to US within 30 days as per the guidance given by the US consulates and US Embassies across the globe, including India. Check Travel to US with NIE – 30 days Rule.

Now that we have some understanding on the NIE and criteria, let’s look user experiences and NIE Letter templates.


Experience 1 : NIE Experience H1B end-to-end : Letter, Travel to US

Background : I’m an H1B holder with a stamped US Visa from the Mumbai Consulate. I have been on H1B since 2011. I currently work in the financial services industry in an investment analysis and client facing role and would classify myself as mid level management. I traveled to India on April 26th for my fathers funeral and couldn’t leave before May 4th. 

National Interest Exception Application for Travel to US

I applied for my NIE on May 8th to Mumbai Consulate where my visa was stamped. I received approval on May 12th. My application was certainly a long shot in my view because I did not think I classified as “vital support” but I thought I would try anyway because there was no harm in applying. It doesn’t hurt to apply per my research on this topic.

Sample Letter Format for NIE Request for H1B Visa – Financial Services

For my application, I filled out the standard fields listed on the consulate website as below.

  • Last name : XXX
  • First name: XXX
  • Date of birth: XXX
  • Place of birth: XXX
  • Country of citizenship: XXX
  • Passport number: XXX
  • Visa Number* and Category: XXX
  • Travel dates: XXX
  • Travel Purpose and National Interest Category that you fall under with clear justification of the same : XXXX. ( see below )

The travel justification was the most important field in my view. In this field I wrote about 2-3 paragraphs. Below are the topics I covered in the letter. I did not had any official letter from the HR or my company.

  • I explained the circumstances of my travel.
  • I discussed my work in financial services which is labeled as a critical infrastructure industry per CISA
  • I mentioned my office remained open during the pandemic from March 2020 for essential employees and I was deemed an important employee by company (I have heard others get letters from their HR department to cement their case but I did not have one). Having established my firm a critical infrastructure firm.
  • I went on to explain how I provide “vital support” to the firm. I discussed my role briefly and mentioned the clients I work with include healthcare firms, US public govt pensions and firms in other critical infrastructure industries.
  • I would find a way to link your work to these end clients in your application.
  • I also mentioned i cannot do my role remotely due to the H1B regulations that prevent us from working outside the country and I mentioned how my aforementioned clients would be worse off without the work I do for them.
  • I summarized this by saying I believe it is in the national interest for me to be present in the country to continue this important work etc.
  • Documents Attached : I attached my US visa copy and India passport copy. 


Response from Mumbai consulate as below :  I also asked them what documents I need and they mentioned that a copy of this email will suffice for travel and entry to US. 

Email from Consulate with NIE Approval
Email from Consulate with NIE Approval

 Side Note: Another contact I have who applied for NIE on B1/B2 got declined but the consulate response encouraged them to find a path to spend 14 days in a third country before entering the US. 

Travel to US, Port of Entry Experience: 

  • I flew from Delhi on May 21st – it was a direct flight from India to US.
  • There was a quick secondary check at check in within the airline staff if I could fly on H1B w/ NIE exemption – they didn’t look at the letter from consulate very closely – and issued my boarding pass.
  • I did carry the NIE exceptions language from State website and the airline policy language stating passengers should carry documentation relevant to their case for entry, in case there were issues. The letter wasn’t checked again by airline staff. 
  • Upon landing, I went to immigration officer to who I mentioned I am traveling on H1B with a NIE exemption. The first one asked purpose of trip to India and then if I was in contact with anyone who was sick.
  • He then asked me to follow him and took me to another officers booth toward the right hand side of the hall.
  • The 2nd officer asked me fairly standard questions for entry to US
    • 1) purpose of trip to US
    • 2) what I do at my job and how long i have worked there
    • 3) how much cash am I carrying
    • 4) was i carrying any food.
  • I asked him if he needed the printed out copy of my NIE exemption letter and he said no, he had it on his system.
  • He then stamped my passport and I was in. Check US Port of Entry Process for more info
  • Customs was stopping several people specifically asking if we were carrying food, meat and vegetables (to a much higher degree than they usually do). 

Final Thoughts : I hope this provides some detail on the process and what to include on the NIE application. It is a low risk option to try so I would certainly recommend applying if you work in a critical infrastructure industry and trying as much as you can to create a link between your work and the impact on your company/clients ongoing functioning. It is a very stressful time for those stuck in India – my best wishes to those applying for this or finding a way out through a third country. 


Experience 2 : NIE Sample Letter for H1B Visa – Approval Experience

Shared by Pratik

Background for NIE : I work in semi conductor manufacturing industry. I did some research and asked my immigration lawyers of the company to see if I qualify. I emailed HR and immigration lawyers and got the relevant letter to attach with NIE request. I emailed the Mumbai consualte the below letter with all the relevant information as mentioned by them as below and attached the supporting NIE letter sent by my company .

NIE Email Information Sent

  • Last name : XXX
  • First name: XXX
  • Date of birth: XXX
  • Place of birth: XXX
  • Country of citizenship: XXX
  • Passport number: XXX
  • Visa Number* and Category: XXX
  • Travel dates: XXX
  • Travel Purpose and National Interest Category that you fall under with clear justification of the same :  Working on H1B in US for XXX and fall under “vital support for critical infrastructure sectors”. Please find the attached letter from my company for NIE.

List of Documents Submitted

  • Employment Verification letter 
  • Letter stating which area the company serves in from the Company HR  ( NIE Letter )

National Interest Exception (NIE) Letter for H1B

You need to get the below letter in company letter head signed by the relevant company authorized person with contact info for verification, if needed.
Date : XXX
To Whom it May Concern:
The frontline essential worker XXXX (the “Employee”) presenting this letter is currently employed by XXX Inc., formerly known as XXX, located at 5825 XXX, Oregon XXX (the Facility). In reviewing the Oregon state and federal guidance set out below and the eligibility requirements for vaccination listed in the Oregon “Get Vaccinated Oregon” COVID-19 Vaccination Plan (the “Vaccination Plan”), XXXX confirms that the Employee (i) is classified as a “critical worker in a high risk setting” or “frontline worker” employed by an essential manufacturer, and (ii) meets the eligibilities requirements for vaccination in Phase 1B Group 7 of the Vaccination Plan.

As some background, XXXX manufactures specialty chemicals required by the semiconductor and microelectronics industries to build products and materials needed for advanced technological devices, including healthcare-related devices and more general computing technology. The XXX’ facility located in XXX, Oregon is considered “Essential Businesses and Operations.” At the federal level, pursuant to the most recent guidance issued on December 16, 2020 by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, the Chemical Sector and Critical Manufacturing Sector supported by XXX’ manufacturing activities are specifically designated as Essential Critical Infrastructure upon which a wide range of other critical infrastructure sectors rely.
Please contact the following XXX management personnel if you have any questions about this letter or XXX’ operations in general

Processing time after Submitting NIE Request : The Consulate in Mumbai took 9 days to process the request and approved my NIE Request. Below is the sample approval email

NIE Approval Email from Consulate to Travel to US

Greetings, 

Please carry a copy of this e-mail while travelling. 

We wish to advise you of an approval for the following individual(s) of an exception to the April 30, 2021 Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019. 

Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXXX

This exception has been registered in our systems, is valid for 30 days from the date of approval, and is valid for a single entry only to the United States. As many flights continue to be cancelled on a regular basis, we recommend you attempt to travel as soon as possible so that the approval does not expire before you can travel. As long as the April 30, 2021, Presidential Proclamation is in place, an exception will be required for travel to the United States directly from India or from any of the other countries listed in other presidential proclamations. 

Please also be advised that admission into the United States remains subject to a determination by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry and that you also may be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to the United States. This approval does not exempt travelers from U.S. COVID-19-related entry requirements. 

Sincerely,
U.S. Consulate General Mumbai

Suggestions for anyone applying for NIE

Talk to company and read the critical infra list by department of state in detail. It lists the different areas which might include yours too. For example: if you work in software which helps in maintained of a factory you might be included in providing critical support to manufacturing.  So make your case accordingly.  Check CISA website Document for full list & Details


Experience 3 :NIE Experience with H1B Visa, Travel to US

Background : I came to India on April 17, 2021 to attend a personal matter. I was eligible for dropbox so submitted my documents for dropbox at Chandigarh due to lockdown in New Delhi, got my visa stamped in 1 week. I had change of employer and I was fearing that I will get 221g but fortunately didn’t face any issue.

Applying for NIE for H1B Visa : After the ban almost made my mind to travel to Mexico but after seeing some folks mention NIE applied for NIE.

  • I sent NIE email on Tuesday night at around 11PM and got approval by Wednesday 10:30 AM. I work for a cloud and data center technology and category was critical infrastructure – information technology sector. Mainly followed below for justification
  • 2 lines about my total experience. Next 3 lines about my profiles and company and project details. 5 bullet points about my JD. And last 3 lines about why it’s critical.
  • My travel date in NIE email was 21 but travelled on 23rd May. Took 2 COVID test at labs in Delhi on 20th evening and got results by next day. The timing was within 72 hours.

Travel to US : Travel was via united airlines from Delhi to SFO. I reached airport 6 hour before just to be on safe side. To get boarding pass they asked for NIE email and COVID test and gave boarding pass immediately. Unlike other people no call to Anyone I guess. Nothing at India emigration. At US POE I was asked why I travelled to India and where do I work and was allowed. It felt just like other times. Also there was no rush at US POE, obviously because very few people are traveling.


Experience 4 : NIE H1B, H4, Travel from Chennai to SFO Experience

  • My husband is on H1-B and I am on H4. He applied for NIE for the Chennai consulate we waited for 7 days. On the 7th day, we attached a more recent employment letter that is specifically tailored for NIE and replied to them. After 2 more days, we got approved.
  • So we booked the flight from Chennai -> Delhi -> SFO.
  • Took the Covid RT-PCR test with Metropolis Lab’s home collection that contained the QR code. Got the report on the same day. Took the flight on Sunday evening from Chennai through Air India.
  • In Chennai Air India, they were not aware of NIE and didn’t allow us to board initially. They said they will give a boarding pass only to Delhi as a Domestic flight and said they can’t transfer the baggage for international travel. We were asked to sign a letter saying we will not dispute Air India if we can’t board in Delhi and collect our baggage in Delhi Aiport.
  • We agreed and finally, we boarded the flight to Delhi. After landing in Delhi, we took the baggage and came to the international departure at the United Airlines counter. There they asked for NIE and Covid test. Within 5 minutes they give the boarding pass and checked in the baggage. United Airlines are well aware of the NIE document and the customer service was great. I would definitely recommend United Airlines over Air India.
  • After 7 hours of layover in Delhi, we took the SFO flight and landed in San Francisco. The immigration was smooth but a long process.
  • They asked for the passport and I-797, they took everyone without a US passport or Green Card to the Secondary Room. My husband talked with a different Immigration Officer, where they asked the purpose of travel and why his physical presence in the US is required.
  • They also confirmed that we took a direct flight from Delhi and confirmed the US Address. The officer stamped the passport but kept it in a glass box with a lock. We were asked to collect the baggage and go through customs to check the luggage with the scan.
  • They were sending everyone from the Secondary to customs to check on the luggage. Our baggage check was smooth. Make sure you don’t bring any canned sweets like Rasagula and spices like Jeera. After that, they gave us a passport and we could finally go home.

Experience 5 : NIE for H1B, H4 – Two Separate Requests –

Background : My husband and Myself got NIE approval from Chennai consulate . We applied for 2 separate NIE’s as we both are in H1b visa.
Note : We didn’t approach our companies for any letter we did the entire writing and any supporting documents by our self . We had a previous employment verification letter mentioning that we work for so and so company from this date in such designation
One of us work in EVC model ( Employee Vendor-> client model ) . So don’t worry if you fall in that category, clearly mention why your physical present is needed, it doesn’t matter if you are Full time employee or a consultant.

  • Time line : Applied NIE on May 14th.
  • NIE Reason : We applied under communication sector in critical infrastructure . We have also mentioned that our work helps public health sector as we both work in networking technology which is being used by hospitals for telemedicine .
    a. Additional email with more information in the format requested in the auto reply which everyone gets was sent on May 17th, on that same day tried applying for all other consulate got an email reply immediately that I need to apply only in Issuing post which is Chennai.
    b. My husband got a reply on May 24th asking for additional information with the below questions
    To help us review your NIE request, please explain what your job duties are, and which critical infrastructure sector your work supports (the list of relevant fields is available at https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors). Please also explain why your physical presence in the US is required to conduct your work, including an example of a task that cannot be performed remotely.
  • This time he gave the NIE category only as communication Sector. https://www.cisa.gov/communications-sector ( copy pasted from the web site and quoted communication sector importance.
  • Sent a detailed job description which contained job duties and how much time he spends on each task .( around 2 full pages in MS word )
  • Sent an explanation as below telling why his presence is required as:- Being an employee of XXX and working as a XXX I work in new network equipment introduction in XXX technology which provides high speed internet broadband. For assembling the new network equipment, I need to be physically present in XX labs. As I have knowledge to work in lab which is present in USA. In a similar way sent around 5 examples
  • Example of a task that cannot be performed remotely:
    Powering up a new network equipment in a XX lab which needs certified person . Thus my physical presence is essential to perform the above duty which is critical for enabling high speed internet .
    Provided 2 more examples like this
  • I sent a reminder on 24th mentioning that we have booked our ticket for 31st of May and sent the ticket also requesting to consider our NIE before our planned date , I also sent an explanation on my own why my work cannot be done without physical presence . I can test the equipments signal strength only within 500 meters etc.
  • I got an approval on 25th .
  • My husband got approval today on 26th .

Thank you for all the help in sharing the information as NIE is totally new even compared to the H1b RFE’s , so every small information shared was useful.


Experience 6 – NIE Request, Telecom Sector, Travel

  • Reached USA on NIE on June 1, 2021 and resumed office today.
  • Work for telecom sector and handle key projects on which there is dependency of other critical sectors as well.
  • NIE Request Mumbai :
    • Based on a letter from my Employer applied for NIE at Mumbai consulate on 05/25 with travel date of 05/30 and was approved on 05/26.
    • Also gave details for my wife. Along with employer letter had attached itinerary and copies of US vaccination record for me & my wife.
  • Had Air India tickets for 05/30 but canceled them and booked on United BOM EWR on 05/31
  • Took RT PCR on 05/29 got negative result for me and my wife on same day.
  • Travel Check Mumbai : At Mumbai airport, United staff was aware of NIE requirements. After checking NIE printout ( consulate approval as well as my original mail ) they gave us boarding passes.
  • US Port of Entry Experience : At POE in Newark I was asked questions such as :
    • which Company I work for
    • how many years I am with this Company, and job duties.
    • Asked my wife why she came to US, to which she answered accompanying spouse.
    • I thought it was over then suddenly the officer got up and told us to accompany him to the secondary inspection room.
    • The room had at least 50 other travelers.
    • My passport and my wife’s passport was kept in plastic bags and we were asked to wait. After some time I was called and asked on what ground I was seeking an exception, was it because I had a US kid.
    • I said I handle critical projects for my Company. He then asked for the NIE mail and again asked me to sit. After about half an hour he called out my name and handed both my & my wife’s passports, and said we are good to go.
    • As soon as we stepped out of the room we were asked to deposit the customs form, after which we made our way home.
    • All the best to everyone waiting to return to USA

Experience 7- Automotive – Second email for NIE Approved

Background : I had recently applied for NIE for me and my wife, I’m on H1B and my wife is on H4.Earlier We were in USA on L1b and L2. In mid april 2021 we both came to India for H1B and H4 visa stamping in Chennai. We got our stamping in the end of April. After that travel ban happened. I didn’t know how to travel back and did not had hope on NIE approval, then I found your group, based on NIE experience in this group I have applied to Chennai consulate, with

  1. Passport details
  2. Visa details
  3. Employer letter requesting NIE
  4. Wrote details as below
    Last name:
    First name:
    Date of birth, in DDMMMYYY format (ie – 01JAN2021):
    Gender (M/F):
    Country of birth:
    Country of citizenship:
    Passport number:
    Visa Number* and Category:
    Visa Expiration date:
    Issuing Post Name (upper left corner of visa):
    Exact Travel dates:
    Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of a NIE: Explanation to support our case

Our company does work in the sectors like Automotive, aviation, communication sectors. Based on these details I had applied on May 29th for me and my wife.
I got approval June 4th for both of us.

Second Email: In the first email I got an auto reply saying if answers for my request is there in that email then I will not get any response. I was not confident on that, then I took initiation and wrote them with some more details to support our request on June 3rd. Then on June 4th I got reply saying that we are approved for NIE.

I feel secondary email is helpful to get their attention on the request.May be it will be helpful for some people who are stuck and don’t know how to travel back to US.

Experience 8 – NIE Letter Template Approach – Internet Infra

My company provided a letter on the company letter head with following details.

1) started with employment verification details, role, location etc.
2) mentioned how company contributes to IT critical infrastructure, like how it helps the internet, provides IT infra to local businesses etc. Also mentioned the impact of company on the US economy.
3) That I am willing to return to continue my work as soon as visa and nie are approved.
4) how my roles and responsibilities help the company support the IT infrastructure.
5) lastly requesting VO to consider my application and statement saying company supports this request.

Note that the letter is not Important for in person interview as VO will ask all the questions to get the information out of you.


6 Experiences – NIE Approved for H4 – Family Separation

NIE Experience 1 – Chennai – H4 Visa

  • My NIE experience submitted to Chennai. I am in US and applied for wife wife and kid
  • 5/13- Sent email for Family Separation
  • Only family separation details + my I-94 visa etc. No details my works
    5/18- Received email asking to demonstrate the spouse exception for NIE as well(Even when I am already in US) with task details why it has to be done in US physically
  • 5/19- Replied with task details along with supporting letter from company. I work for Emergency services projects
  • 5/23(Sunday)- Received NIE for both my wife and kid.
  • I was planning to send reminder on Monday morning
  • My suggestion – while applying for family separation include the details of work as well for NIE so we don’t have to send details again and it adds additional time

NIE Experience 2 – Chennai – H4 Visa

  • I got NIE approval from Chennai.
  • I work for a retail company and my job involves working on supporting front line works. But I’ve applied on Family separation reason.
  • I’ve requested NIE for my wife and kid. I’m already in US. Applied for NIE on May 14th to Chennai consulate.
  • Received a reply asking for my Job duties on 17th. Responded on same day. I thought of sending a follow up on Monday but Received approval today.
  • But in the approval mail they mentioned only my details.
  • I was little disappointed and replied asking NIE for my wife and daughter just to confirm. They immediately replied with all three of us are exempted.

NIE Experience 3 – NIE Approval without any Documents – H4

  • Hi All, I applied for NIE at Chennai Consulate yesterday and got the approval today for me and my dependents (wife and 2 kids). I came for India on a vacation got stuck due to this travel ban..
  • I did not expect at this speed.. I have given the travel date as 2nd June..
  • I am working for Infosys and working for a retail client.. I applied for NIE under IT sector.. I just sent an email from my yahoo account without any documents..

NIE Experience 4 – New Delhi H4 Email, Letter Sent and text

  • Sent all basic information and got it approved for family separation from Delhi. Used below as the text as reason for family seperation
  • Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of a NIE: My spouse, who has a non immigrant H1B visa, is currently in New Jersey, USA. I had traveled to India for a medical emergency in my family. I have a valid H4 visa and a travel ticket from New Delhi to USA for 16 may, 2021. I have to travel back to the USA to support my spouse. Please consider this as a case of family separation and help by providing an exception from the new presidential proclamation.

NIE Experiences 5 & 6 – H4 Visa

  • Experience 5 : Got NIE approval from Hyderabad based on Family separation. I am on H4, applied on 6th May then again on 13th May and sent few reminders after that they asked to share I94 of primary H1 holder
  • Experience 6 : Got NIE approval from Hyderabad..purely based on Family separation, applied on 13th May..got approval around 2.00pm today…

3 NIE Travel Experiences to US from India

Experience 1 – Travel BLR-DEL-EWR-BOS via United

  • Reached US.. traveled BLR-DEL-EWR-BOS via United
  • At BLR – AI staff took 1 hr to verify my NIE if I am eligible to travel US or not and after that issued boarding passes.
  • At DEL – Went to United counter to check in. I told them abt my NIE, they immly called embassy to verify my NIE. It took around 30-40 mins to verify and then issue Boarding pass till Boston.
  • At EWR- I was asked to go and wait in a room where lots of Indian people were waiting to be verified. CBP officers were checking and asking proofs from everyone for travel ban exemptions. I was hoping that they will ask me same thing. But to my surprise the officer came and handed over my passport and told me I am good to go. I was pleasantly surprised. 🙂 I had to wait 40 mins in that room.

Experience 2 : NIE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE AIR INDIA ( RAJKOT->NEW DELHI->EWR)

  • My wife (H4) travelled on 24th May with NIE approval
  • Rajkot: Asked RTPCR report and checked 72hours from departure of US flight. Didn’t ask anything about NIE. They just issued both the boarding pass
  • New Delhi: Didn’t ask anything about NIE
    Airport people just asked that make sure you have 72hours departure before you reach at Flight Entry Gate
  • EWR: No one has asked about RTPCR report.
  • 1st CBP Officer Questions:
    • What is husband’s name? She answered
    • What is your husband doing? She answered
    • What food items you are carrying? (We said Yes inside the custom form)
    • She answered
  • 1st CBP officer called his/her colleague and asked to take my wife for the second interview.
  • FYI: Once my wife reached at second interview room, there were too many people who had a second interview. I can say that would be on H1B or H4 or some other visas
    • Do you have I797? My wife didn’t had it and she just handed over mine.
    • What food items you are carrying?
    • Your husband’s passport copy?
    • Where is your husband? She said in US.
    • Are you sure of Question 4? She said Yes
    • Is your husband here to pick up you? She said Yes
  • Immigration is cleared.

Experience 3 – Travel Delhi to SFO via Air India Experience

I traveled on NIE today from Delhi to SFO via Air India.

  • The Air India staff did not called CBP for verification of NIE, but he asked for entire email. I gave him just the approval part but he said he wanted to check the passport numbers on the email. After receiving the boarding pass i asked him how did you verified, he replied we can randomly and main for B1/B2 NIE. The key take away pls get print out of entire email.
  • No questions asked at Indian immigration
  • At POE SFO they sent me and my spouse to second level of screening but we were freed up in 10 mins with stamp on the passport. Question asked – reason to visit India, how long you are working here, did u studied here, have any us born kids, what is nature of ur job, what is ur job title , what roles you perform.
  • I applied NIE at Chennai at first but they did not replied for a long long time out of frustration I send the email to all the consulate’s. Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai asked to apply at Chennai. Hyderabad denied and Chennai finally approved. Hyderabad deny came after Chennai approval and that scared me a lot. Key point do not apply to all consulate and denied from other consulate did not appear in the system but pls avoid applying at all consulate and approval from visa issuing consulate is important.
  • Experience flying with air India was worst in terms of flying experience, united is better but expensive and only 1 bag allowed.

Experience 4 – Travel Delhi to SFO via United

I got my NIE approved from Delhi and traveled on Saturday via united
Delhi to SFO. United staff didn’t verify my NIE with the embassy (they told me they do that when in doubt.

I was a little bit grilled by immigration at SFO I think I gave them a reason to take to secondary. {In primary Gave vague /confusing answers which gave them a reason to send me to secondary, In secondary I answered the question correctly, they ask what do I do to be considered for NIE by the embassy as well among other basic questions)

For NIE, I gave family separation and working for a cloud provider.

  • Which visa
  • Which company
  • Reason for traveling
  • Do you have covid
  • Where do you work

What email subject to use for NIE Request email to consulate ?

You can use something like “Request for National Interest Exception(NIE) under category – Supporting Critical IT Infrastructure, H1B”. Depending on the purpose, you can change the purpose and add visa type in it.

If I get US Visa Annotated with Annotation “NIE UNDER ALL P.P.S ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS”, do I still need to email ?

No need, if you are traveling within 30 days from the US Visa issuance date. If you are traveling after 30 days, then you need to email the consulate and get approval email.

What has been your experience with NIE ? How as your travel ? Share your experiences in comments below.

   

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115 Comments

  1. I applied for NIE in US Embassy in Chennai on 9th June 2021. Haven’t received any response. How many days average they take to make decision?

    Reply
    • I have applied on 10th June 2021 and waiting. Based on reading various people experience the average time taken is 7 days. Initially it was quick, but now its seems like lot of people sending email for NIE.

      Reply
  2. Hi all
    This is to enquire about the NIE, I have a valid Immigrant visa (EB4 category) going to migrate to USA for the first time. When I arrived at the airport I was asked for NIE, which I did not have back then, so I applied for NIE on 7th June in Mumbai Consulate and so far I did not get any response and my next travel date is on 21st June. Should I sent them a reminder?

    Reply
  3. Hi Kumar and all,

    I work for Biotechnology company which is working on cancer research and new drug development. My role is clinical research associate where I will be reviewing patient medical records and managing research documentation. Will be eligible for NIE

    Reply
  4. Hi,

    I’m currently in India, I recently got my H1B stamped (first time). I’m planning to apply for NIE but not sure if I’m eligible or not as I work as a business systems analyst for customer communications platform of an E-commerce client. I’m currently working remotely but my client has confirmed that office will soon be open for onsite workers (from July, will get schedules). Is there anyone who were in similar situation applied for NIE and got approval? If yes, could you please guide me apply for NIE?

    I work in a EVC model.

    Thanks,
    Vamshi

    Reply
  5. Hi All.

    Need some advice. I am currently working in US, my wife (Dependent H4) is in India, her travel was on May 4th but due to travel ban she could not make. I am trying to apply for NIE travel exception as I work in critical Infrastructure IT department. I need help with below question. Please help.

    1. Can I send a mail to the consulate on behalf of my Spouse(H4) ?
    2. Do we need to send the NIE request to the same consulate from where Visa was stamped or any consulate will be fine ?
    3. Can I send mail from my Employer Mail ID or Client Mail ID ?
    4. Since this travel is for spouse what documents I need to send ?

    Please help.

    Regards,

    Reply
    • Hi Ahamed,

      Could you please share the sample letter of how you are establishing yourself as critical resource/ frontline worker

      Thanks

      Reply
  6. Hi Friends, I have applied for NIE at Chennai Consulate on 06/04/2021. I got the system auto-response within few mins, and am yet to get response back, be it Approved or Denied. My travel was planned for 06/12/2021, can i send a reminder email or Status check email to consulate tomorrow (06/09) or its too early to ask and put my case in bad state? Am super-confused on next steps.

    Reply
    • AD,
      It is very important, that is the one that decides, if you still work for the company and your presence is needed.

      Reply
  7. Hi,
    I need to travel to India ASAP for personal reasons. I’m on my first time H1B. I have to get my visa stamped before coming to the US. I have my appointment on November 1st, 2021, which is too far. I work in the semiconductor and hardware industry. Do I qualify for NIE? And can I apply for NIE while I’m still in the US or should I apply after I’m in India? Please help me. Thanks.

    Reply
    • People need to understand this because a lot of you ask this question.

      – First, you cannot apply for NIE within United States. You have to be outside US.

      – Second People with a valid stamp can apply for NIE via email. You cannot apply via email. Reason is for NIE via email you need your visa number which you don’t have.

      -Third – You will schedule the regular interview, if you have any emergency you will apply and if granted you will get an earlier interview date, on this date you will present your NIE case along with explanation and supporting doc. IF you visa is approved, your stamp will come annotated with NIE.

      – You should focus on how to successfully get an emergency appointment not NIE, at least for the time being, once that is done, focus on interview and NIE explanation.

      Reply
  8. i am in USA with valid H1b and My wife is in India and submitted the passport for h4 Dropbox. Currently passport is with US Consulate Hyderabad.
    Can NIE help her to get H4 Visa stamped and get her passport back?

    Reply
    • As far as i know, anyone whose passport is still with US consulate will automatically get 221g for NIE because they want to give everyone a chance to qualify. Your wife will get 221g asking her to provide information if she qualifies fir NIE. Please have your documentation ready.

      Reply
  9. Hi,

    I have My EAD with AP and valid H1B visa without stamping. we came to India for medical emergency and stuck due to the travel ban. Can I apply NIE?

    Reply
  10. I have valid h1b visa and this is first time travel to US. Working in IT sector. Can I eligible and apply for NIE?

    Reply
    • You can try for NIE, there is no guarantee you will get as IT sector is too broad. If this is the first time, then chances are lower unless your job is directly tied to a critical industry for US (health care, defense, food etc.)

      Reply
  11. Hi Friends, Am going to apply or NIE today. Do i need to mention about the vaccination status? Am not fully vaccinated but got my first dose. Will this add any value in NIE at the current situation?

    Reply
  12. I have a valid H4 visa stamp expiring in September 2021. I need to travel to India due to a family medical emergency. I have a US born kid so I do qualify for exemption from travel ban. I am also working on H4EAD. In NIE request email, should I mention that I am working or should I just mention US born kid and family separation reason. Also are there any chances of NIE request getting rejected.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • If you have a US born kid and a valid visa, there is no need to apply separately for NIE. Just be sure to carry the birth certificate of you US citizen child and a copy of the child’s passport (if the child has one).

      Reply
  13. I am so grateful for this forum. Having seen some positive responses I was inspired to initiate an NIE for my son who has an L2 visa and studying in India. His biometrics for GC is later this month. I copied your format and narrated my reason for seeking NIE on April 30. I got a response on June 1 night US time, asking about my (L1) whereabouts. A few hours back, I got the approval for NIE.

    I would have never even thought of this route had it not been for you all. THANK YOU

    Reply
    • Hi , just a clarification, did u apply NIE on April 30th? And would you mind sharing the consulate to which you applied for?

      Reply
      • Yes I applied for NIE and it was Delhi Embassy

        The immigration is very tedious and strict and my son was asked so many quesions. But all’s well that ends well.

        BKJ

        Reply
  14. Hi all,I want to know chennai Consulate appointment earliest availability for L1a and My son is U.S citizen(6year old).Is there any way to expedite appointments based on son’s citizenship.i heard kids who are citizens below 21 year are exempted from travel ban.Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  15. Hello All, my H1B visa was issued at Vancouver consulate in Canada. I’m currently in India and want to apply for an NIE to travel back to USA. Does anyone have the NIE specific email id for the Vancouver Consulate? Or should I just send a email to one of the consulates of India?

    Reply
    • You can email one in India and mention the guidance on US state website says to email the consulate closest to where you are currently.

      Reply
    • Ram,
      Please update on comment once you receive any guidance from any of consulate in India. My family is in similar situation and I am planning to send email to Delhi to inquire about. I will update here once I receive response. Thanks.

      Reply
  16. My spouse in India applied for NIE reason as family separation, but she got reply to send Husband H1B applicant job duties, job title and why your physical presence in the US is required. I am planning to change by current employer to other employer and my H1B Visa got approved with new employer and my joining date is June 14. But we have to reply to the email with job duties. Can you suggest which job duties need to mention in the reply email.

    Reply
  17. I had sent the NIE approval request on 26May, which is 7 days now..no reply yet.. What’s the average response time? From the the experiences quoted in this page many folks got it in a couple of days.
    Will I get a reply even of its refused?

    Reply
  18. Hi,
    I am on H4 and I have recieved NIE from Delhi Embassy, but it’s not my visa issuing consulate. Would this cause a problem in immigration/or at POE?

    I received another mail from my visa issuing consulate (Chennai) asking for spouse’s work details(Cloud computing). Should I take a chance and respond to them or go ahead with the approval I got from Delhi consulate?

    Reply
  19. hi
    i work for a public university as full time employee working for their financial systems.
    i am currently stuck in india after coming for my marriage.
    can i try for NIE or am i eligible under EDUCATION based on this paragraph.
    https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ECIW_4.0_Guidance_on_Essential_Critical_Infrastructure_Workers_Final3_508_0.pdf

    Workers who provide services necessary to support educators and students, including but not
    limited to, administrators, administrative staff, IT specialists, media specialists, librarians, guidance
    counselors, school psychologists and other mental health professions, school nurses and other
    health professionals, and school safety personnel.

    Reply
    • Hello;

      Did you apply for NIE under the education category. Pls let me know if you get any updates. I too plan to apply as a dependent as my spouse too works as a Professor. Thanks.

      Reply
          • Not yet.i sent a reminder with some missing detail in my initial email. I got a different auto response that they will respond with in 2 weeks from submission.please be patient.thisnkind of response I got.my travel date is 17th so they might be replying based on the date is what I guess.

  20. Hello,
    Wanted to understand if there is dependency between NIE and US Visa Stamping. Below is my situation
    1) I am planning to come to India for family emergency but I need H1B visa stamping preferably in Chennai Consulate
    2) Is the ONLY way to get appointments currently is by applying for Emergency Appointment? Are regular appointments either by “Interview” or by “Dropbox” completely closed?
    3) Before I book my appointment for stamping or before going for stamping ; do I ALSO have to apply for NIE email and get NIE approval and take that email for stamping?

    Does anyone have experience in getting H1B/H4 visa stamping plus getting the NIE?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • NIE approval through email is for those who already have a valid stamping. In your case you will apply for regular appointment the if you have a case you might upgrade to emergency and then during your visa interview you will prove that you are eligible for NIE, for you NIE will be annotated on the visa. Email approvals ae for those whose visa is already stamped and cannot be annotated with NIE hence email approval.

      Long shot, you will most definitely get stuck there for a while.

      Reply
  21. Hi,

    Is it possible to get my aged mother on a NIE from India? She lives alone and has a valid B1/B2 Visa. I am Pregnant and I believe it will be risky for me to travel to India at this time. Also I need to get my visa stamped and the consulates are not authorizing stamping of visas at this time. Any suggestions is helpful.

    Reply
    • No harm in trying but odds of success are low. I tried for my mother as well also on B1/B2 (after fathers passing) but got rejected. Let us know if any success.

      Reply
    • My wife is in similar situation, we are planning to apply. We are GC holders and according to US travel govt NIE list for humanitarian grounds, traveler can visit only if they can take care of a valid visa/GC/us citizen in USA. So you might have to frame in such a way that you need your mom to take care of you rather than other way around, but again pregnancy is not given much weightage under humnatarian grounds unless you have some medical complications while being pregnant.

      Reply
  22. We got reject from Hyderabad consulate within a 2 business days of applying for NIE. H1B for spouse and self, for IT sector, long justification provided, attach all possible convincing documentation.

    Reply
  23. Has anyone tried applying NIE for visitor visa? My wife is pregnant at the moment and we are planning to apply for NIE so her mom can come and help her with last few months of pregnancy. Any response is much appreciated.

    Reply
    • No harm in trying but odds of success are low. I tried for my mother as well also on B1/B2 (after fathers passing) but got rejected. Let us know if any success.

      Reply
    • Hi did your mother-in-law’ NIE get approved? I am in the same boat and would like to call my parents in humanitarian grounds to US since I am pregnant.

      Reply
      • Pls try and check yourself, I guess it boils down to how well you frame and convince with proof. But think about it, why do you need your parents when you can avail all facilities/freinds help (nanny/day care etc etc) while in USA ….Pls dont misunderstand but this is how US officers think. We Indians are emotional and require parents for delivery but here culture is different. Unless you are handicapped or physically challenged during pregnancy there is no “humnnatarain ground” here…..againn I would love to be proven wrong and hope this misery of travel ban ends soon.

        Reply
  24. Thanks for sharing the experience s. Can someone share the auto reply from consulate for.mentioning Job duties.Also are there any first time Travelers on H1B who had NIE approved?

    Reply
    • Jegan,
      This is the standard auto response
      __________________________________________________

      Thank you for contacting the Consular Information Unit at the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai.

      Please read this email carefully. If the answer to your inquiry can be found in this response or in the linked resources you will not receive a separate response.

      Current Operating Status

      All routine services at the U.S. Consulate General Chennai are currently suspended, including routine non-immigrant visa appointments, interview waiver appointments, and routine American Citizen Services appointments. We will resume routine services as soon as possible, but we are unable to provide a specific date at this time.

      Non-immigrant visa applicants with an emergency purpose of travel should follow the guidance provided on our appointments website. Applicants seeking an emergency appointment should also review the important information below regarding the April 30th Presidential Proclamation and National Interest Exceptions.

      The April 30th Presidential Proclamation

      On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a Proclamation suspending the entry of certain nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India. The Proclamation is in effect beginning 12:01 AM EDT on Tuesday, May 4. U.S. citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and immigrant visa holders are not subject to the proclamation.

      The suspension of entry also does not apply to:

      Any non-U.S. citizen spouse of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR).
      Any non-U.S. citizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided that the U.S. citizen or LPR child is unmarried and under the age of 21.
      Any non-U.S. citizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided both the non-U.S. citizen and the U.S. citizen or LPR sibling are unmarried and under the age of 21.
      Any non-U.S. citizen who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or LPR, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications.

      Travelers meeting the above criteria should bring proof of the qualifying relationship when initiating travel to the United States. We are not able to provide travelers with a letter or other document demonstrating proof of relationship.

      Most non-immigrant travel to the United States by individuals physically present in India is prohibited as a result of the proclamation. The only non-immigrant visa categories that are not subject to the Proclamation are:
      C-1, D, C-1/D
      A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, E-1, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6

      The proclamation applies to holders of all other visa categories, as well as those who intend to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  

      National Interest Exceptions

      Those who are subject to the Proclamation cannot travel to the United States unless they first receive a National Interest Exception.

      Students with valid F or M visas and a valid I-20 form indicating a start date that is after August 1, 2021 may travel to the United States without additional exception processing.

      All other non-immigrant travelers must receive approval for a national interest exception prior to travel.  Without approval, you are likely to be denied boarding or entry to the United States.

      National Interest Exceptions can be approved for a narrow scope of individuals whose purpose of travel is in the U.S. national interest for economic or national security reasons.  National Interest Exception eligibility is outlined on the Department of State website.

      If you are a non-immigrant visa holder or an ESTA traveler who believes you meet the eligibility criteria for a National Interest Exception, please follow the instructions to request an exception found on our website.

      If you are seeking to apply for a visa, and believe you meet the eligibility criteria for a National Interest Exception, please follow the directions on our appointments website to make an emergency appointment request. In addition to providing information about the emergency nature of your travel in your request, you must also provide information regarding why you believe you are eligible for a National Interest Exception.

      National Interest Exception requests are carefully reviewed according to State Department guidelines. If your request is denied, it will not be revisited. You may submit another request if your circumstances change.

      Regards,

      Consular Information Unit

      U.S. Consulate General

      220, Anna Salai

      Chennai 600 006

      India

      https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/chennai/

      Reply
  25. Hi
    My wife is on H4 visa, went to India due to emergency and now stuck in India due to travel restrictions.
    She has valid H4 visa stamp in her passport expiring sep21.
    I am currently on valid H1B in the USA working in infrastructure support in financial industry.
    Can she apply for NIE based on family separation ?
    If NIE get rejected, does her H4 visa still remains valid?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  26. My role is very important and falls under NIE but my physical presence is not very well balanced in my letter will that be something we need to specifically provide, can someone help me with sharing examples of physicality presenting duties working in IT, thanks.

    Reply
    • Say you cannot perform ongoing responsibilities because of the H1B regulations preventing one from working outside the country ( this is true)

      Reply
    • Vinod P,
      Well, it is good to explicitly have it in the letter to be safe. It is easier to get a letter from your company than complexities later.

      Reply
  27. hi,
    I have got NIE approval from the Hyderabad consulate , As I’m on my f1 visa I have my stare date from july 5 th and I got a approval mail to travel on or after july 1st ,
    my University has sent me the i20 updated for fall term for the purpose of travel , but mean while I got the approval from NIE , so can I carry the summer i20 which has start date as july 5th or will it lead to any problem ,

    Reply
    • anuhya,
      You can only travel as Consulate has given you the directions. If you want to go early, write to consulate now and get confirmation before you travel to be sure.

      Reply
      • i actually got the NIE approval to travel on or after july 1 as I’m on my f1 visa and i got another i20 issued for fall sem but my summer sem starts on july5 so can i carry the summer sem i20 and go ahead to travel on july 2?
        Hyd consulate gave me an approval to travel from july 1

        Reply
  28. I am a H1B holder and received a NIE from US embassy. Will my dependents (H4)- wife and kid also be eligible for NIE?

    below from Presidential Proclamation on Apr30th –
    The Secretary of State has determined that the entry of the following travelers is in the national interest for purposes of exceptions to the geographic COVID Presidential Proclamations, including those subject to restrictions under this Proclamation:

    – Derivative family members accompanying or following to join a noncitizen who has been granted, would be reasonably expected to receive an NIE, or is otherwise not subject to the Proclamations and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research lasting four weeks or more.

    Reply
  29. I applied for NIE for my wife (H4 visa) in Mumbai embassy, on 22nd May got approval after a weeks time
    I also explained about my company which works in healthcare sector. Provided some online links which showed how my company got emergency FDA approval this year for some of our products.
    Reason I gave was family separation.
    Thanks for this forum, which gave me enough information to apply for NIE.

    Reply
  30. Can anyone give suggestion.Since i am in H1b Visa.My Family is separated becuase of travel ban.Is there a way we can request USCIS or state department to permit to get back the family to USA.No one from my family is US citizens.

    Please answer if you have really good source of information

    Reply
      • @ Vignesh: According to NIE list, travel on humanitarian grounds is allowed if the traveler is going to take care of a US citizen/PR holder /Valid visa holder on medical grounds . Yours is opposite so mostly will be rejected. Plus US culture is very different from us. For them parents are not considered important, they give preference only to husband/wife their kids sadly..

        Reply
    • I applied a few times for this but got declined. It was for my mum as well after my fathers recent passing. There’s no harm in trying though. Let us know if any success!

      Reply
  31. I have received NIE approval but air india will not confirm which flights are operational. They are ready to book ticket in all flights but my 22 May flight was cancelled. How to make sure I book the ticket in the flight which will not be cancelled.

    Reply
    • Hello Manisha,

      I also received NIE Approval but not able to confirm if I can fly with Lufthansa and transit through Germany- Frankfurt airport . What additional documents are required at Port of Entry or to board the flight in order to book a ticket with United Airlines / Air India / Luftanza. I am planning to travel by next week from Mumbai to Seattle.

      Reply
      • Satyajit,
        You can see above experiences that include travel. Most of the times, the process is very simple at POE as they know you got NIE. Regular documents for your visa, your RTPCR Test, general supporting info for your visa type.

        Reply
  32. I have a B1 Visa which is issued in 2019 year valid for 10 years and I work in the Infra Support team for a US client. Can I apply NIE for B1 Visa

    Reply
    • Phani,
      You may try for it. You need to justify, why you need to be there in person. Usually B1 visa is short term for meetings. So, discuss with your company and then apply.

      Reply
  33. There should also be experiences of applicants who had to apply to HYDERABAD embassy and how we are receiving rejection emails in 5 minutes at the least and makes us wonder if the applications are even being read through.

    Reply
    • Sam,
      It is true, there are many rejections all across all consulates. The goal of the post is to take positives and apply.

      Reply

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