As most of you know, due to extreme COVID situation in India, President Biden signed proclamation banning all Travelers from India to US, if they spent 14 days before their travel in India on April 30th, 2021. As part of the travel ban, US Dept of State provided National Interest Exceptions (NIE) criteria defining who are not subject to this travel ban and process to apply the same. Read US Bans Travelers from India – NIE Exceptions, Process for more info.
One important change is the time limit to travel if you receive NIE. In the past, with Trump Travel ban on H1B, L and other visas, that expired on March 31st, 2021, the NIE rules to travel to US were different. In this article, we will review what are the current NIE rules for travel to US.
If you are looking to book a slot using Emergency Appointment in India based on NIE or general emergency, read Guide to US Visa Emergency Appointment Process – India
How does US Visa Approved under NIE look ? Sample ?
If you get US Visa Stamping done in India on or after May 4th, 2021, which is after the Biden presidential proclamation went into effect based on National Interest Exception (NIE), it would look like below. If you were eligible for NIE and get US Visa approved, then your US Visa Stamp Foil that is glued in passport would have annotation called National Interest Exception (NIE) and the proclamation text as you see below. Below sample is shared by one of our readers, who got H1B visa stamping under NIE.
To compare, how the visa annotation looked for someone who got NIE and got stamping during the previous President Trump Proclamation related to H1B Travel Ban, below is the sample of the same. If you see closely, the text says “RISK TO LABOR MARKET”, in it that clearly tells. Again, the below screenshot is for comparison only, you would NOT get visa annotation like below anymore as the proclamation expired.
30 Days Travel Rule for NIE – Travel from India to US
In the past, with H1B Travel Ban, the 30 days rule was not there for anyone who traveled from India and it was clarified by US Consulates, but now, since May 4th, 2021, this changed. As per the current guidance by US Embassy and US Consulates, you first need to apply for NIE by sending all your details and NIE justification along with the email to the consulate that gave you visa with specific dates of your travel. If approved, you would need to travel within 30 days from the date of your NIE Approval. You only get single entry to use it to travel within 30 days. Below is the official guidance screenshot from US Embassy & US Consulates in India. Check Official FAQs
If the NIE request is approved, you would get a confirmation to travel. The email clearly tells that you would need to travel within 30 days as well with the applicant name and passport information. See below email confirmation with NIE Approved for an applicant in India.
The current guidance for NIE to travel from India given by US Consulates in India is same as given by other US consulates across the globe. See below.
We have many users who got NIE approval in India before travel and were able to travel to US. Read article : 15 NIE Approval Experiences India – Letter, Travel
US Visa Stamp with NIE Annotation – Do I need NIE Email ?
Many of you, who have attended US Visa Stamping during the travel ban, would have got US Visa foil glued in your passport that has annotation saying “NIE UNDER ALL P. P. S ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS” that looked like in above screenshot in beginning section. The question is, do you need to again send an email to Consulate or Embassy and get the NIE Email confirmation.
We have reached out to US Embassy in Delhi and US Consulate in Chennai on the same and below is the response.
- If your visa stamp has the annotation “”NIE UNDER ALL P. P. S ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS”” and if you travel within 30 days from the date when your visa was issued, you do not need to email anyone and get separate NIE approval. Your visa stamp annotation will serve that you are exempt to travel under NIE. See below email screenshots.
- If you travel after 30 days, then you need to reach out to the consulate or embassy over email and share all your details and get NIE approval before you travel. See below email screenshots.
NIE Travel 30 Days Rule – EU Region Guidance
- 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
- 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
- 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
What has been your experience with travel with NIE from India ? ? Did you travel after 30 days to US ?