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Many Ukrainians have crossed into Germany since 24 February 2022 when Russia invaded.  Some may want passage to the United States.  Those fearing return to Ukraine need to ask for asylum with the German Government.  The US Embassy only offers assistance to those desiring non-immigrant visas, usually for visitors and students, and to those eligible for immigrant visas, usually relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents.  The US Mission in Germany has posted information to help Ukrainians applying for non-immigrant and immigrant visas in Germany.

Many Ukrainians have crossed into Poland since 24 February 2022 when Russia invaded.  Some may want passage to the United States.  Those fearing return to Ukraine need to ask for asylum with the Polish Government.  The US Embassy only offers assistance to those desiring non-immigrant visas, usually for visitors and students, and to those eligible for immigrant visas, usually relatives of US citizens and lawful permanent residents.  The US Mission in Poland has posted information to help Ukrainians applying for non-immigrant and immigrant visas in Poland.

(Updated 9 November 2021) This article is now out of date.  You no longer need a national interest exception to visit the United States.  All NIEs granted before November 8 are now invalid!!!  With the onset of middle summer 2021 in the United Kingdom, the need to travel to the United States grew dramatically.  Announcements were made about loosening of quarantine restrictions upon return from the US as an amber country. Even with a valid ESTA or non-immigrant visa however, if you need to travel to the United States and are a foreign national coming from the United Kingdom, most likely you will have to either (1) make time to be in Mexico, or another non Schengen, UK or Ireland country for a full 14 days before entering the US, or (2) obtain a national interest exception (NIE). The US Embassy in London can take 3-4 weeks to grant a national interest exception to travel directly to the US despite the travel ban. Urgent exceptions for humanitarian travel reasons may be granted for emergencies more quickly - like to see a dying parent or sibling.  Please consider making the request yourself by following these directions:

Positive news arrived for US citizens abroad seeking to travel back to the United States and unable to nab an appointment to renew a United States passport - especially for minors where an in-person appointment with both parents is typically required.  In a Media Note dated May 24, 2021, US Department of State Spokeperson writes,  “U.S. citizens currently overseas whose passports expired on or after January 1, 2020, may be able to use their expired U.S. passport for direct return travel to the United States until December 31, 2021.”

(Updated November 10, 2021).  This article contains concepts useful to request a visa interview during a time of scarce visitor visa interviews.  National interest exceptions are no longer needed to travel to the United States.  Consular officers from Berlin and Frankfurt presented via Zoom at an event sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (“AmCham Germany”) March 22, 2021, to explain the national interest exception guidance published by the US Department of State on March 2, 2021.

(Updated 6 November 2022)

From the US Embassy in London and US Consulate in Belfast, 15 June 2022: Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S. due to COVID-19:

"Effective Sunday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m. [Eastern Daylight Time], the [Center for Disease Control, the US fedeal health agency (CDC)] rescinded its Order requiring all airline or other aircraft passengers to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 to board any aircraft destined to the United States from a foreign country. Of note, CDC’s Order requiring proof of vaccination for non-U.S. citizen nonimmigrants to travel to the United States is still in effect."

Airline companies no longer need to collect US bound traveler attestations and review documentation of negative test results for Covid-19.  Requirements for vaccination which started November 8, 2021 remain in place.  Airline companies still require from non-US citizens and non-US permanent residents:  proof of vaccination from the NHS in the form of the machine readable QR Code "NHS COVID Pass." 

Update: The fee rule described in this blog did not go into effect on October 2, 2020!  Click through for the full update. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the domestic immigration agency USCIS have been complaining that there are not adequate fees in their accounts to pay workers and have twice threatened 70% or 13,000 employees with furloughs in August 2020. At the end of July, the DHS/ USCIS released a final rule increasing many filing fees and introducing a 15-business day rather than 15-calendar day premium processing. 

By Polina Dashevsky, Summer Intern

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) added two new chapters  to their policy manual on July 15 2020:  (1) Volume 1, Chapter 8 on the concept of “Discretionary Analysis,” as a general policy and procedure and (2) Volume 10, Chapter 5 on the application of discretion in employment authorization decisions.The ostensible purpose is to consolidate and clarify the existing policy guidance on the use and application of discretion.  This blog focuses on the Discretionary Analysis general procedure chapter.

By Melissa Chavin

For a long time, the US foreign ministry, its State Department, appeared to “give up” the ghost with grading foreign countries based on their danger for US persons to visit. They kept the Global Travel Advisory Level at 4 “Do Not Travel” and allowed their staff to depart and come to the United States.  As of August 6, 2020, the State Department began grading travel advisories by country again, dependent in part on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.  Will this mean more visa issuance again for residents of the United Kingdom?

By: Melissa Chavin, Attorney, and Claire Graham, Summer Intern

During the pandemic, President Trump issued four physical presence related Presidential Proclamations, in which he stated that foreign nationals with any physical presence in the immediately preceding 14 days in the UK, Republic of Ireland, European Schengen area, China, Brazil and Iran are restricted from entering the United States.[1]  No date when the travel restrictions will be lifted is set forth. Individuals who meet certain exceptions are still allowed entry without visiting an unrestricted area for fourteen days prior to entry.  In a prior blog, we discussed explicit/ objective exceptions.[2]  In this blog, we are considering another exception that is subjective in nature and involves substantial judgement calls on the part of the adjudicator, the national interest exception.