Extension of Exceptions to U.S. Ports of Entry for Qualifying Travel


On June 29, 2021, the US State Department extended the validity period of National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for travelers entering the United States from an area subject to COVID-related travel bans.

Presidential proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, 10199 and subsequent proclamations prohibited the entry of certain non-immigrants who were present in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the Kingdom United, Ireland and India for the 14th day preceding their application for entry into the United States. These proclamations were issued to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The proclamations, however, allow the State Department to grant NIEs to qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for humanitarian travel, public health response efforts, or in support of national security.

NIEs were originally limited to a single entry into the United States and with a validity period of only 30 days from the date of issue. This required people who had to enter the United States multiple times to apply for and receive approval for the following NIEs for each travel and entry into the United States. According to the State Department, effective immediately and unless otherwise specified, NIEs will be valid for one year from the date of approval, as well as for multiple entries into the United States, as long as the entries are used in the same purpose under which the NIE was originally approved. Individuals must continue to meet the approval requirements for the exception.

The extension applies retroactively to all existing NIEs that the State Department has granted in the past 12 months and in conjunction with an application for a US visa or travel under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA ). Therefore, a person who has been approved for an NIE can travel to the United States using an existing NIE, as well as a valid visa or ESTA authorization, if the NIE has been approved within the last 12 months and the Purpose of the person’s travel is the same purpose for which the NIE was originally granted.

At this time, it does not appear that this extension will be carried over to the validity period of NIEs granted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at ports of entry into the United States. Unless verified otherwise by CBP, these NIEs can only remain valid for one entry into the United States within 30 days of issuance.

© 2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 189

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