National Interest Exceptions for F-1 Students and Certain Other Non-Immigrants

On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued a statement announcing that a national interest exception (NIE) under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, and 10143 would be available to “students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs.” This is the same NIE that has already been available to students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, and it expands the exception to students from China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa.*   A new advisory on April 30, 2021 added India to the list of countries included under the travel ban, and also extended the NIE to students from that country.  

Background:   PPs 9984, 9992, and 10143 barred travelers from entering the U.S. if they had been present in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland within the previous 14 days.  Each of these PPs also contain a National Interest Exception, available on a case-by-case basis, to certain people under particular circumstances.  

Following are the current rules for F-1 students traveling from these countries:

  • If you currently hold a valid F-1 visa, you are not required to contact an embassy or consulate prior to traveling to the U.S. to begin or continue an academic program. 
  • If you need to obtain a new F-1 visa you must apply for that visa at the nearest embassy or consulate whenever appointments are available to you.  If you are approved for the F-1 visa, you will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.
  • If you are seeking a J-1 visa for an academic program you will need to contact an embassy or consulate to apply for an NIE, even if you already have a visa in your passport. The NIE is not a blanket exception for any visa categories except F-1 and M-1, so you will need to have it individually approved.  
  • TIME DETAILS: If you are from China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, or India you will only qualify for an NIE if your academic program begins or continues August 1, 2021 or later. If you are from the Schengen Region, the United Kingdom, or Ireland it is our understanding that you have access to the NIE as soon as your program begins or continues. 

*Note that the various PPs and NIEs reference other immigrant and nonimmigrant travelers, but this announcement only addresses those categories most common to the Pitt community.