On April 30, 2021, President Biden signed a Proclamation suspending the entry of certain nonimmigrant travelers who have been physically present in India, which went into effect on Tuesday, May 4. Immigrants, U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are not subject to the proclamation. Some other exceptions include, but are not limited to: foreign diplomats traveling to the United States on A or G visas and certain family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents including spouses, minor children, parents (provided that his/her U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child is unmarried and under the age of 21), and siblings (provided that both the sibling and the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident are unmarried and under the age of 21). There is also an exception for air and sea crew traveling to the United States on C, D, or C1/D visas. For the full list of those not subject to the Proclamation, please refer to the Proclamation text, available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/04/30/a-proclamation-on-the-suspension-of-entry-as-nonimmigrants-of-certain-additional-persons-who-pose-a-risk-of-transmitting-coronavirus-disease-2019/.
The Secretary of State has determined that the entry of the following travelers is in the national interest for purposes of exceptions to the geographic COVID Presidential Proclamations, including those subject to restrictions under this Proclamation:
- Immigrants (not applicable to the restrictions under Proclamation 10199, which only covers nonimmigrant travel)
- Fiancé(e)s (K visas)
- 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, including optional practical training (OPT), begins August 1, 2021 or later. Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program, including OPT, beginning August 1, 2021 or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual National Interest Exception to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.
- Travelers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors or directly linked supply chains.
- 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 visa holder’s necessary training is four weeks or longer.
- Certain exchange visitors, including:
- Travel by an au pair to provide care for a minor U.S. citizen, LPR, or nonimmigrant in lawful status when the au pair possesses special skills required for a child with particular needs (e.g., medical, special education, or sign language).
- Travel by an au pair that prevents a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other nonimmigrant in lawful status from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state or ward of a medical or other public funded institution.
- Travel by an au pair to provide childcare services for a child whose parents are involved with giving medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19, or who are conducting medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19.
- Travel for an exchange program conducted pursuant to an MOU, Statement of Intent, or other valid agreement or arrangement between a foreign government and any federal, state, or local government entity in the United States that is designed to promote U.S. national interests if the agreement or arrangement with the foreign government was in effect prior to June 24, 2020, such as https://eca.state.gov/fulbright .
- Travel by interns and trainees on U.S. government agency-sponsored programs (those with a program number beginning with "G-3" on Form DS-2019): An exchange visitor participating in an exchange visitor program in which he or she will be hosted by a U.S. government agency and the program supports the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.
- Travel by specialized teachers in accredited educational institutions with a program number beginning with "G-5" on Form DS-2019: An exchange visitor participating in an exchange program in which he or she will teach full-time, including a substantial portion that is in person, in a publicly or privately operated primary or secondary accredited educational institution where the applicant demonstrates ability to make a specialized contribution to the education of students in the United States. A “specialized teacher” applicant must demonstrate native or near-native foreign language proficiency and the ability to teach his/her assigned subject(s) in that language.
- Travel in support of critical foreign policy objectives: This only includes exchange visitors participating in a small number of exchange programs that fulfill critical and time sensitive foreign policy objectives.
- Derivative family members accompanying or following to join a noncitizen who has been granted, would be reasonably expected to receive an NIE, or is otherwise not subject to the Proclamations and who is engaging in certain types of long-term employment, studies, or research lasting four weeks or more.
The Department of State also continues to grant National Interest Exceptions for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security. These travelers and any others who believe their travel to be in the United States’ national interest should also review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for instructions on how to contact them.
Travelers in these categories who wish to visit the United States and have a valid visa in the appropriate class, or who are seeking to apply for a visa, and believe they may qualify for a national interest exception should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling.
If circumstances warrant, the Secretary of State may revise the national interest determinations at any time.
For a complete list of COVID-related Presidential Proclamations currently in effect, see here.