The U.S. Department of State (DOS) released new information on COVID-19 travel restrictions contained in four presidential proclamations affecting China, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Schengen Area, Brazil, South Africa, Iran and India. The proclamations bar U.S. admission for noncitizens who were in any of 33 specified countries in the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
The travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, green card holders and their immediate family members, among others. On June 24, 2021, the DOS also clarified eligibility and application procedures for National Interest Exemptions (NIEs), which are exceptions to these restrictions.
According to the DOS, three categories of travelers can obtain an NIE without prior approval from an embassy or consulate. Travelers who may qualify for automatic exceptions to the four proclamations include immigrants across all categories, fiancés and dependents of U.S. citizens, and certain new or returning students.
Some categories of travelers may be eligible for an NIE if subject to one or more of the four proclamations. Exchange students, journalists, individuals in the medical field and those providing vital support to the U.S. economy are among the travelers who may be able to apply for an NIE.
Individuals present in the 33 countries who have an urgent need to travel to the United States that does not fall under any of the specified categories may be granted an individual NIE at the discretion of the DOS on a case-by-case basis.