The situation has evolved since March 2020 when the first travel ban to enter the US got established… We bring you the last update at March 2021 impacting the issuance of visas abroad.

The Columbus Consulting group shared this document in a questions & answers format to help you apprehend where do we stand on March 2nd, 2021.

On March 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of State announced new restrictions regarding NIE requests and visa issuance, particularly E visas. The change makes the ground for travel more restrictive.

Who is affected by these new restrictions?

  • Any nonimmigrant visa applicant. Applicants for E visas are now also affected since the issuance of an E visa, like any other nonimmigrant visa, is also subject to the eligibility for an NIE.
  • Any nonimmigrant visa holder. An NIE is still required to enter the United States when the traveler comes from the Schengen area (as well as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa). However, the eligibility conditions for a NIE are even more restricted.

What are the consequences of these new restrictions on visa interviews at U.S. consulates abroad?

  • Only E visa applicants (as well as any other nonimmigrant visa applicant such as B or O) who are also eligible for an NIE can now go to their interview and have their visa issued.
  • Already booked interviews of E visa applicants not eligible for an NIE will automatically be canceled.

How to book a visa interview if a visa applicant believes they qualify for an NIE?

  • In order to schedule an appointment for a visa interview, a visa applicant will need to request an “expedite appointment” and explain why they believe they qualify for an NIE. The decision to grant such an expedite appointment will be subject to the discretion of a consular officer.

What are the new criteria for eligibility for a NIE?

The new criteria of eligibility for an NIE are more restrictive for both the visas applicants and visas holders:

  • 1) Vital Support of Critical Infrastructure –the applicant (for an NIE and/or a visa) must be involved in a “critical infrastructure sector,” which are defined by the DHS as follows: chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, transportation, and water/wastewater systems

Note: The travel must be directly related to supporting the infrastructure. The applicant must be able to show why they cannot perform their work from outside of the United States.

  • 2) Directly Support the Creation or Retention of U.S. Jobs – Eligibility to an NIE will also be subject to whether the E visa applicant’s (as well as any other nonimmigrant visa applicant such as B or O)/NIE requestor’s travel will directly support the substantial creation or retention of U.S. jobs. The proposed activity must physically take place in the United States and cannot be postponed or conducted remotely. This eligibility criterion was announced as being rarely accepted.

More at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/national-interest-exceptions-from-certain-travelers-from-the-schengen-area-uk-and-ireland.html.

We have also attached an ADDENDUM on the official communication from the U.S. consulate in Paris.

Thank you Isabelle Marcus from Columbus Consulting Group for this NIE and visa’s request update.

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