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US Visa issued under NIE – Travel within 30 Days ? India Consulates?

As most of you know, Trump Travel ban on H1B, L and other visa holders has separated many families and many are stuck in their home countries and not able to travel to US. They announced National Interest Exceptions(NIE) for H1B, H4, L and other visa holders, who could get US Visa stamping done and also can travel to US.

The eligible applicants need to apply for Emergency Appointment (EA) to get visa stamping done.  US consulates in India are no different for this EA process.  But, recently, there has been talk among many telling that there is a 30 days rule to travel to US, if the visa was approved under National Interest Exception (NIE). Many of our users, including us have reached to consulates & USTravelDocs in India to clarify the same. In this article, we will share the summary of what we got back from consulates and more details on this 30 days rule.

What is US Visa Approved under NIE ? Sample ?

Due to executive order (EO)/ proclamation signed by US President, applicants of some visa types (e.g. H1B, H4, L, others) are not be eligible to get US visa or enter US. As part of the EO or Proclamation, they gave exceptions to get US Visa. For example, if your spouse is in US on the day of proclamation, or you had same visa type valid on the day of proclamation, you are not subject to proclamation or EO.

Now, if you are eligible for these exceptions and get US Visa approved, then US Visa Stamp Foil  that is glued in passport would have annotation called National Interest Exception (NIE) and the proclamation number next to it.  It looks like below.  If you have got US Visa with this annotation, then your visa was approved under NIE. See below screenshot for sample US Visa issued under NIE.

NIE Visa Copy USA - Sample Annotation
Sample US Visa issued under NIE with Annotation

What is 30 Days Travel Rule with US Visa issued under NIE?

As per few US consulates across the globe: If you get US Visa approved under National Interest Exception (NIE), you need to travel to US within 30 days after the US Visa is approved. This 30-day travel restriction to US may apply to some or all US Visas that were issued under NIE.  

Below are some references from various US Consulates across the globe.

  • US Consulate Germany:  They have listed the 30 days travel rule, under the FAQs section and have it indicated for many of the visa types. Below is one of such screenshots that talks about the 30 days rule.  Here is the exact text “Please be advised, if a national interest exception is granted for travel on a new or existing visa or for travel under ESTA, it is good for only one entry and for travel within 30 days after it is approved.” . You can  Check US Consulate Germany COVID-19 FAQs  
Travel Within 30 days - National Interest Exception - Germany Consulate
Travel Within 30 days – National Interest Exception – Germany Consulate
  • US Embassy Norway:  On US Embassy Norway, they have clearly put in big header on the page and talk about the limitations of National Interest Exception (NIE) Travel. They say that, even if you get full visa validity, if it was issued under NIE, then you need to travel within 30 days. See below screenshot. You can check US Embassy Norway – Expansion of NIE
National Interest Exception US Visa - Norway Consulate
National Interest Exception US Visa – Norway Consulate
  • US Embassy Sweden: You can find the exact same message on US Embassy Sweden website that tells that you need to enter US within 30 days from the day visa is issued as well. See below screenshot and check US Embassy Sweden NIE info
Sweden 30 days travel Rule
US Consulate Sweden 30 days travel Rule

Do all US Consulates have this 30 days Rule ? India ?

Not all US Consulates websites have the guidance on these limitations to travel to US within 30 days from visa issuance under NIE.  Only a handful of consulates, like above, have this “travel within 30 days” rule listed on their websites as “Limitations of National Interest Exception for Travel”. 

  • US Consulate in India : We do not have the “Travel within 30 days rule” message or restriction listed on US Consulates websites in India for Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata or Hyderabad, including the US Embassy in Delhi. But, when we checked with them via email, the responses are mixed, we will look at them below.

US Consulate Chennai, India – 30 days Travel rule

Some users mentioned on Social media and telegram groups that US Consular officers in Chennai were telling about the 30 days rule. They advised the applicants, who got visas approved to travel within 30 days.

Initially, when we wrote to US Consulate in Chennai and they confirmed that the 30 days rule applies to all the visas issued at US Consulate in Chennai. But later, after sometime they clarified more on the same indicating that it applies only to certain cases and not for everyone.  Also, we got email confirmation on the same. Below is the most recent update.

Sep 13th, 2020 : We received confirmation from US consulate clarifying that the 30 days restriction to travel to US does not apply to anyone who has visa with annotation “NIE under P.P on Risk to Labor Market“. Many of the recent H4, H1B, L1, and L2 visas are issued with this same annotation. So, to summarize, all US consulates in India confirmed that there is no such 30 days rule for visas issued with this NIE annotation of labor market. See below second email, where they clarified to other users apologizing for the confusion. Also, on social media, few other users posted similar confirmation emails from US consulate Chennai, that all say that this rule does not apply. So, it is validated by few users.

Travel to US within 30 Days NIE - Chennai Consulate Update Info
Updated clarification from Chennai on 30 days Travel rule for NIE Visa
NIE Rule - Chennai - Clarification email
Chennai Consulate Clarification on NIE 30 days Rule

Below Information from Chennai Consulate is for Historical reasons for you to understand, it does not apply. The above guidance from Sep 13th is the final one.

Sep 10th, 2020 : Today a user, who got H4 Visa Approved using Dropbox got the below Yellow color slip that talks about the 30 days Travel rule. It says that the visa applicant has to travel to US within 30 days from the date of the Visa Interview. It is same as what Chennai Consulate updated via email. The user applied for Dropbox at Bangalore location with Chennai as the Consualte. So, it is real that Chennai is telling users that they need to leave to US in 30 days. See below screenshot

US Dropbox - Travel to US within 30 days Rule - NIE Visa - Chennai
30 Days Rule Slip given for Dropbox

Below is the screenshot of the original exact email response that was sent to us on September 1st, 2020.

National Interest Exception US Visa Email Chennai Consulate
National Interest Exception US Visa Email Chennai Consulate

They also confirmed in email that the 30 days indication is not printed on the visa. See below screenshot.

30 Day rule - Not printed on Visa
30 Day rule – Not printed on Visa – US Consulate Chennai Confirmation

US Embassy New Delhi, India – 30 days Travel rule

We reached out to US Embassy in New Delhi with exact same email text that quoted text of 30 days rule on Germany Consulate website.  They said it does not apply to Indian Applicants. See below screenshot of the response from New Delhi Consulate.   

National Interest Exception US Visa Email New Delhi Embassy
National Interest Exception US Visa Email New Delhi Embassy

US Consulate Mumbai, India – 30 days Travel rule Response

We have sent the same email to US Consulate in Mumbai. As per them, the 30 days rule does not apply to applicants in India and you can travel to US as long as the visa stands valid. See below screenshot of the response from them.

US Consulate Mumbai Response 30 days Rule
US Consulate Mumbai Response 30 days Rule

US Consulate Kolkata, India – 30 days Travel rule Response

One of our social media group users sent email to US Consulate in Kolkata. They confirmed that 30 days travel rule does not apply to visas issued at US Consulate in Kolkata. See below screenshot of the response from them.

Kolkata US Visa - 30 days NIE Travel Rule
Kolkata US Visa – 30 days NIE Travel Rule

In summary, the response from all consulates and US embassy in Delhi say that the 30 days rule does not apply.

US Travel Docs India Response for 30 Days Travel Rule

When we reached out with the same email to US Travel Docs, the response is totally bizarre. First, they just send the template response of the Proclamation. Second time, when I said they are wrong and ask it again, they send H1B related entry restrictions and  do NOT even respond to my question.  All we can conclude from this is that the Support Staff responding to USTravelDocs do not have clue to answer properly. So, cannot really trust what they say.  See below screenshots from them.

US Travel Docs Responses - 30 days rule
US Travel Docs Responses – 30 days rule
Second Response US Travel Docs
Second Response US Travel Docs

Below are other responses that other users shared when they contacted USTravelDocs, where they say there is no such restriction.  But again, this message from them has little weight as they seem to be answered by less trained support staff and response is not accurate. See below screenshot of two responses from them.

US Visa 30 Days Rule US Travel Docs - Two Emails
US Visa 30 Days Rule Response by USTravelDocs – Two Responses

Conclusion – 30 days Rule for Consulates in India?

Updated Sep 15th, 2020

As you can see from above, there was confusion created by US Consulate in Chennai on the 30 days rule and the responses from USTravelDocs India Support channels was not clear too. Eventually, US Consulate in Chennai confirmed that the 30 days rule does not apply to anyone, who has the visa with annotation “”NIE under P.P on Risk to Labor Market“.”

  • Now, if you plan to travel within 30 days, then just ignore all of this and go ahead with your travel.
  • If you want to be extra safe, you can email the consulate and then take their email confirmation as print out. Again, this is not required, but if you want to be extra safe, you can do this.

What has been your response talking to US Consulates on 30 days rule ? Did you travel after 30 days to US ?

   

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33 Comments

  1. Hi,
    None of them in my family has US citizen,
    Can I apply h4 extension for my family under NIE? Friends, please advise how will i get consular appointment anywhere in india?
    Currently i am staying in US and waiting for EB2 biometrics.
    Thank you,
    prabhakar

    Reply
  2. Good afternoon,

    I know currently a H1B visa issue can be denied at the consulate if one does not meet NIE requirements, because of the existing PP 10052 (which suspends the issue of some visas) and PP 10143 (which restricts the entry in the US of individuals who have been in the Schengen area and other countries during the previous 14 days).

    In the scenario that PP 10052 is not extended and ends on March 31, after that will it be possible to get a visa stamp even if you don’t meet any NIE requirements for PP 10143??

    According to what I have read, I think so because I believe PP 10143 does not suspend the issue of visas. If the only proclamation in place is PP 10143, I think that one can get a visa stamp without processing any NIE; and in order to get back in the US he/she would have to stay outside the restricted countries for 14 days before entering the US.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Has anyone travelled on H1B visa with annotation “NIE UNDER P.P. ON RISK TO LABOR MARKET”. If yes, then can you please share your experience at port of entry. What questions were asked or any other issues/difficulty faced due above annotation.

    Reply
    • DINSIN,
      Many have traveled and were able to arrive in US safely. Some of them shared that there was secondary inspection and few questions were asked related to work, how they qualify for exception. So, be prepared to answer and have all documentation handy.

      Reply
  4. Hi, My wife got H4 visa stamped thru dropbox channel from Bangalore just 2 days ago. She too had the same annotation. As per the advice from redbus2us I reached out to Chennai consulate . Here is what they had to say.

    Hope this helps.

    Hello, thank you for your inquiry.

    Some applicants who are subject to one of the recent Presidential Proclamations, but have been granted an exception, are required to travel to the United States within 30 days of visa issuance. Please follow the subsequent guidance to determine whether or not this applies to you:

    If your visa is annotated “NIE under P.P. on Novel Coronavirus,” you must enter the U.S. within 30 days of visa issuance. If your travel will take place 30 days or more after the issuance of the visa, please respond to this message with a photo of your visa along with the planned date of travel. An interview will generally not be required, but may be requested if necessary.

    If your visa is annotated “NIE under P.P. on Risk to Labour Market,” or there is no annotation in your visa, this regulation does not apply to you, and you may travel at a time that is convenient.

    Please note that upon entering the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine how long a traveller may stay.

    Regards,

    Consular Information Unit
    U.S. Consulate General
    220, Anna Salai
    Chennai 600 006
    India

    Reply
    • Hi Sunil,

      While you have applied for stamping in dropbox did you prepared NIE template for providing justification for the need for travel? I am processing and trying to apply for the same and require to prepare the reasons so need help in preparing the justification.

      Reply
  5. Hi Kumar,

    As from previous thread, I just got my visa for H1B with issuance date of Sept 23, 2020 but I don’t have this exemption “NIE” annotations. What should I do? Am I allowed to travel back to US? Please help!

    Or anyone who were in a same boat and able to get entry?

    Reply
  6. I, got my visa stamping via drop box completed in Pune, new VFS office in Wanowrie. Process is very easy, very few people. There is no travel within 30 days mentioned on the passport or neither did the representative say so. I would like to request please dont be so scared or concerned. We all are doing everything legally and officially. I also got the NIE under PP on risk to labor market – means National Interest Exception under Presidential Proclamation on risk to labor market. Only means we are an exception and are allowed to get visa and travel as well.
    Though I had clicked photo, my hair were untied so they requested me to get another photograph 2 for 250 INR to meet their criteria.

    Reply
  7. Hello,
    I asked this question to Kolkata consulate & here’s their response:

    “Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thank you for contacting the U.S. Consulate,Kolkata.

    In response to your query, currently there is no restriction that the applicant must travel to the U.S. within 30 days of visa approval.

    Please check out the COVID-19 alerts information on travel.state.gov before you plan your travel.”

    Reply
  8. Hi Kumar, I had the same question since many weeks as my family is travelling after 30 days of their visa approval using EA under NIE. Today I emailed Chennai consulate with this question and received the response from them as below.

    “Hello, thank you for reaching out.
    An exception to Presidential Proclamation 10052 remains valid for use even if after 30 days from the time of issuance.
    Regards,
    Consular Information Unit
    U.S. Consulate General, Chennai”

    What I understood from their email is that we can travel even after 30 days ?, can you please confirm ?

    Regards,
    Suresh V

    Reply
  9. The travel state gov site says,
    “`Note, a national interest exception is not required if the principal applicant is not subject to P.P. 10052 (e.g. if the principal was in the United States on the effective date, June 24, or has a valid visa that the principal will use to seek entry to the United States).“`

    So, if the principal H1 applicant was in US on june 24th, then the H4 visa applicant shouldn’t get NIE annotated, is the understanding right, could anyone confirm?

    Reply
    • My understanding is same too. But as far as I checked H4 issued through emergency appt got tagged with NIE. Its crazy.

      Reply
      • Hi Kumar, I had the same question since many weeks as my family is travelling after 30 days of their visa approval using EA under NIE. Today I emailed Chennai consulate with this question and received the response from them as below.

        “Hello, thank you for reaching out.
        An exception to Presidential Proclamation 10052 remains valid for use even if after 30 days from the time of issuance.
        Regards,
        Consular Information Unit
        U.S. Consulate General, Chennai”

        What I understood from their email is that we can travel even after 30 days ?, can you please confirm ?

        Regards,
        Suresh V

        Reply

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