United States Travel Exemptions: Do Your Travelers Qualify?

November 6, 2020

Through a newly formed alliance, Newland Chase and U.S. law firm Greenberg Traurig can support qualified travelers with assessing eligibility to travel to the United States.

Contact us to learn how we can assist your foreign nationals who need to enter the U.S. during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Q: Is travel into the United States still restricted due to COVID-19?

A:           Yes, several Presidential Proclamations limit travel into the United States by individuals physically present in the following countries within 14 days of arrival: China, Iran, European Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and Brazil.

Q: When do the travel bans expire?

A:           The proclamations do not have a formal end date.

Q: Are there exceptions to the travel ban?

A:           Yes, certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, students, and journalists may qualify for national interest exceptions (NIE) as well as those entering for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security. Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may also travel to the United States. If a U.S. embassy or consulate approves a national interest exception, the Foreign National may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA directly into the United States.

Q: I am not qualified for a National Interest Exception, may I still be able to enter the United States?

A:           Yes, the Proclamations are based upon physical presence, not nationality, so it is possible to spend 14 days in a country not subject to the travel bans prior to entering the United States.

Q: What must I demonstrate to qualify for a NIE?

A:           NIEs are available for temporary travel that provides a substantial economic benefit to the U.S. economy. Examples may include: senior-level managers and executives, and their dependents, who provide strategic direction necessary for the success of the company or venture, as well as technical experts and specialists to install, service, maintain, or receive training for vessels, machinery and other specialized equipment used by U.S. and foreign firms.

Q: What is the application process for the NIE?

A:           It is necessary to file a written request with supporting documentation with the appropriate U.S. consulate.  While some ports of entry may consider requests it is typically best to first make a request via the consular system.

Q: How long will it take to receive a decision?

A:           Processing times depend upon the consulate considering the request and vary from 7-60 days, with most consulates averaging 10-14 days at this time.

Q: If I am granted an NIE will I have to quarantine upon arrival to the United States?

A:           The CDC does not currently mandate quarantine at the federal level upon entry into the United States. However, you may still be required to comply with state specific restrictions when entering a U.S. state. You should check individual state department of health requirements before you travel.

Q: If my NIE is approved, are there any restrictions with travel I should know about?

A:           Yes, your approved NIE is only valid for one trip within 30 days of it being granted by the Consulate. You will need to apply for a new NIE for each trip you take to the United States.

This publication was prepared by Greenberg Traurig and Newland Chase. View as a downloadable PDF.

This publication is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are reminded that immigration laws are subject to change. We are not responsible for any loss arising from reliance on this publication. Please contact Newland Chase should you require any additional clarification or case specific advice.