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Key Points
  • DOS has expanded the list of individuals eligible for an National Interest Exception (NIE)
  • Immigrant and fiancé (K) visa applicants, some exchange visitors, pilots, and aircrew now qualify for an NIE
  • Individuals with an NIE are exempt from existing regional COVID-19 travel bans
  • All travelers, including those with an NIE, are still subject to COVID-19 entry requirements, including providing proof of negative COVID-19 test results or recovery from COVID-19
Overview
The US Department of State (DOS) has expanded its list of individuals who are eligible for a National Interest Exception (NIE) to enter the US while regional COVID-19 travel bans remain in effect. The NIE allows select individuals to obtain a visa and grants them an exemption to the regional COVID-19 travel bans that are in place.
Who is Affected? 
Eligibility is now extended to immigrant and fiancé (K) visa applicants, certain exchange visitors (including interns, trainees, teachers, and au pairs) who meet qualifying criteria, and pilots and aircrew who are traveling to the US for training or aircraft maintenance, pickup, and delivery.
What Should Employers and Applicants Know? 
Although the list of NIE waivers is expanded, all travelers to the US who are arriving by air must provide evidence of negative COVID-19 test results. Tests must be taken within 72 hours of travel. Alternatively, travelers can present documentation proving recovery from a recent COVID-19 infection.
Regional travel bans are still in effect. Except for the newly expanded group of eligible individuals, most travelers cannot enter the US if they have been physically present in China, Brazil, Ireland, Iran, the U.K., South Africa, or the Schengen Area in the past two weeks.
Looking Ahead 
Updates will be provided on changes to COVID-19 entry restrictions to the US as available.
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