Our office has received many questions about how to obtain a National Interest Exception (NIE) for individuals who are physically present in India who are affected by the April 30, 2021 proclamation restricting nonimmigrant travelers from India. The process on requesting an NIE depends on whether you already have a valid visa, or if you will need to request a visa stamping appointment:
#1 Do you have a valid visa?
If you do, you can move onto #2. If you do not currently have a valid visa, you will need to obtain a visa. At this time, due to safety concerns, most of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are only accepting emergency appointments. Applicants with an emergency need for travel can request an expedited appointment through our online appointment system at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/expedited-appointment.html. In your request, you must clearly state which National Interest Exception may apply and provide supporting documentation with your request.
#2 If you have a valid visa, or if you need to request an emergency appointment based on an NIE, you must determine whether you qualify for an NIE:
- Immigrants (not applicable to the restrictions under the April 30, India Proclamation, which only covers nonimmigrant travel)
- Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs. Students subject to these geographic COVID proclamations due to their presence in India, China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for a National Interest Exception only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021 or later. In addition, students with valid F-1 or M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program, including optional practical training (OPT), starting August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to travel.
- Travelers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors.
- Pilots and aircrew traveling to the United States for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance, including individuals who are traveling to the United States on B-1/B-2, B-1, or M-1 visas, or Visa Waiver Program authorizations. This also include certain M-2 dependents when the principal’s necessary training is four weeks or more.
- Certain exchange visitors
- Derivative family members accompanying a noncitizen who is excepted from or otherwise not subject to the Proclamation and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research of four weeks or longer.
- Travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, or national security.
- Travelers seeking to provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure.
- Travelers seeking to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States.
#3 If you qualify for an NIE, and you have definite travel plans, you must contact the Embassy or Consulate that issued your visa to request a national interest exception prior to you travel.
- U.S. Embassy New Delhi: NewDelhiNIE@state.gov
- U.S. Consulate General Chennai: ChennaiNIE@state.gov
- U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad: HyderabadNIE@state.gov
- U.S. Consulate General Kolkata: KolkataNIE@state.gov
- U.S. Consulate General Mumbai: MumbaiNIE@state.gov
Send an email to the correct email address of the consulate or embassy that issued your visa. The email must include the following information for all travelers seeking an exception, as it appears on the visa:
Date of birth, in DDMMMYYY format (ie – 01JAN2021):
Country of birth:
Country of citizenship:
Visa Number* and Category:
Issuing Post Name (upper left corner of visa):
Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of a NIE:
*The visa number, also known as the visa foil number, is located on the lower right of the visa.
As per the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in India website:
Each request will be carefully considered as our limited resources allow. Emails in languages other than English may slow response time. We aim to respond to each request within two weeks but cannot guarantee a decision date or the outcome of the decision. Errors in the submitted data may prevent approval in NIE requests.
Unless otherwise indicated, existing NIEs will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted. Previously, NIEs were only valid for 30 days and could only be used for one single entry into the United States.
If you have any questions about whether you qualify for an NIE, or how to obtain an NIE, you can set up a consultation with any of our Reddy & Neumann, P.C. attorneys.