Travelers from the Schengen Area, UK and Ireland: U.S. Department of State Revises Criteria for National Interest Exception Waivers
On March 2, 2021, DOS revised its policy for granting National Interest Exception (NIE) waivers for travelers subject to Presidential Proclamation 10143 as it pertains to travelers from the Schengen Area, UK and Ireland. The March 2nd revision will further limit travelers from these European territories holding or applying for L, H, O, E and B visas, as well as those using the visa waiver program (ESTA).
Prior to the March 2nd revision, technical experts, specialists, senior-level managers and executives, treaty traders and investors, professional athletes, and their dependents were eligible for NIE waivers. That meant L, H and O visa holders/applicants may have qualified for NIE waivers as managers, executives or specialists; and E visa holders/applicants qualified as treaty trader and investors. Even temporary visitors were eligible to travel with B visas or ESTA as executives, managers or specialists/technicians.
Now, after the March 2nd revision, NIE waivers are restricted to “travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure.” This means many individuals, whether already holding valid visas or applying for one, will find it more difficult or impossible to qualify for NIE waivers.
Additional information regarding this is available at the DOS website.