US State Department Extends National Interest Exception Validity

July 08, 2021

The US Department of State announced on July 6 that it has extended the validity of previously issued National Interest Exceptions (NIEs), and that going forward, NIEs will be granted for a validity period of one year for multiple entries to the United States.

The Department of State announcement applies to NIEs that were granted to travelers subject to Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, and 10199 based on an individual’s presence in the following countries during the 14 days preceding their entry to the United States: China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India.

Under the new guidance, individuals who received NIE approvals in the last 12 months will be able to travel with the existing authorization for a period of 12 months as of the date of approval. The State Department also added that NIE authorizations will now be valid for multiple entries to the United States. Thus, based on this retroactive NIE extension, an individual who had received an approval in June 2021, for example, would be exempt from travel restrictions until June 2022 and will be able to make multiple trips with the same authorization. The new guidelines, however, only apply to trips that have the same purpose for which the initial NIE was granted.

Under the prior guidance, individuals who received NIEs were required to enter the United States within 30 days of approval, and the travel authorization was only valid for a single trip. Travelers needing to make subsequent entries to the United States were required to request new NIE approvals for each trip.

There are several questions that still remain open with respect to this change, such as whether a previously granted NIE remains valid for travel from multiple countries subject to travel restrictions or only from the country that was originally the subject of the NIE. In addition, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated that NIEs granted by CBP at various ports of entry remain valid only for a single entry and must be used within 30 days. As of this writing it is not clear whether CBP will change its rules to align with the Department of State change.

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We continue to monitor these developments and will report on any changes. If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Washington, DC
Shannon A. Donnelly
Eleanor Pelta
Eric S. Bord

Laura C. Garvin