Overview of Current COVID-19 International Travel Restrictions

Please be advised that due to COVID-19, there are many restrictions on the ability of non-U.S. citizens to obtain a visa and travel to the U.S.

Travelers Prohibited From Entering the U.S.: Several Presidential Proclamations established restrictions on the entry of certain travelers into the United States in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and India may not enter the U.S. in any visa status unless they are approved for a National Interest Exception (NIE) issued by a U.S. Consulate abroad.

If you have a layover in one of the restricted countries, you will be barred from entering.

On July 6, 2021, the State Department announced significant changes for travelers who have been approved for an NIE.

Among the qualifications for NIEs are those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction to critical infrastructure; those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States; journalists; travel due to extraordinary humanitarian circumstances; or travel in support of national security or public health. Students holding F or M visas and travelers with immigrant or fiancé visas have been granted NIEs and do not need to obtain NIEs in advance from a consular section.

Travelers should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling if they have not previously been approved for a NIE and have a valid visa in the appropriate class or have a valid ESTA authorization for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and seek to travel for purposes consistent with ESTA authorization. If an NIE is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate.

Each approved NIE is now valid for 12 months from the date of approval and may be used to travel to the United States multiple times for the purpose indicated in the approved NIE. Under prior guidance, an NIE was valid only for 30 days and a single entry to the U.S.

The 12 month and multiple entry extension applies retroactively to all existing NIEs approved in the last 12 months. Travelers who have been approved for an NIE may travel to the United States using their existing NIE if it was approved in the last 12 months and if the purpose of travel is the same as the purpose for which it was granted.

Travelers who need visas and who believe their travel to be in the United States’ national interest should review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for instructions on how to apply, bearing in mind that many consular sections have a backlog due to the pandemic. Approved visas applicants will be considered for an NIE as part of the application process.

Consulate Closures: Due to COVID-19, many U.S. Consulates are currently closed, only accepting emergency appointments or have major backlogs. Some consulates are accepting requests for visa appointments – you will need to check the website for the consulate where you intend to apply to see if they are accepting appointments at this time. Note that while some consulates are accepting appointments, they have also been canceling these appointments and rescheduling. Thus, obtaining an appointment date now does not mean that it is guaranteed.

Travelers Prohibited from Entering Other Countries: Numerous countries around the world have instituted travel bans. You will need to check for any travel restrictions for any countries you will fly from or through.

Negative Covid Test: The US government requires a negative COVID test for international travel back into the U.S.: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html.