DOS Announces New National Interest Exception Policy for Some Travelers From the UK, Ireland and Schengen Area

March 4, 2021 Anne Walsh

Key Points

  • The DOS has announced a new National Interest Exception (NIE) policy that makes it more difficult for some travelers from the UK, Schengen Area, and Ireland to obtain National Interest Exceptions to PP 10143
  • Presidential Proclamation 10143 prevents the entry to the U.S. of immigrants and nonimmigrants who have been present in designated countries in the last 14 days
  • The rescinded NIE policy included certain technical experts and specialists, senior-level managers and executives, treaty-traders and investors, professional athletes, and their dependents
  • The Secretary of State made a new NIE for persons seeking to travel to the U.S. to provide vital support for critical infrastructure
  • The DOS will continue to issue NIEs for qualified persons who are entering the U.S. for purposes related to public health response, humanitarian travel, and national security
  • NIE criteria remains unchanged for academics, students, and journalists
  • No previously issued NIEs will be revoked
  • The DOS has not yet provided details on how it will apply the new standards

Overview

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced a new policy that limits the National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for persons present in the UK, Ireland and EU Schengen Area who are subject to the travel bans still in effect for those areas.

What are the Changes?

The newly published NIE policy allows fewer ways to qualify for an exception to Presidential Proclamation 10143. As a result, business travelers and visa workers may be less likely to receive a NIE such that they can travel to the U.S. despite their presence in the UK, Ireland or Schengen Area in the last 14 days.

Along with rescinding its previous NIE policy, the DOS has created a new National Interest Exception for persons seeking entry into the U.S. to offer vital support for critical infrastructure.

Who is Affected?

Persons present in the UK, Ireland or Schengen Area who are not otherwise exempt (such as lawful permanent residents) from PP 10143 must assess their eligibility for a NIE under the new policy. Persons in the UK, Ireland or Schengen Area who planned to apply for a National Interest Exception under the criteria of technical experts and specialists or senior-level managers and executives cannot do so at this time.

NIE criteria remains unchanged for academics, students, and journalists. Additionally, the DOS will continue to issue NIEs for qualified travelers who are entering the U.S. for purposes related to public health response, humanitarian travel, and national security. 

What Should Employers and Applicants Know?

Although the DOS has changed its criteria for granting NIEs as they relate to UK, Ireland and Schengen Area, no previously issued NIEs will be revoked. Persons present in the UK, Ireland or Schengen Area must carefully assess if they are exempt from PP 10143 or qualify for a NIE under the new policy.

Global Immigration Associates (GIA) encourages all persons in the UK, Ireland or Schengen Area, or persons with plans to travel to those areas, to contact their immigration legal team or nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for circumstance-specific information. If an NIE is approved, travelers will obtain ESTA authorization or a valid visa allowing for their travel to the U.S.

Looking Ahead

The DOS has not yet provided details on how it will apply the new standards. Envoy and GIA will provide updates as they become available.


Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Anne Walsh, who is a Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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