(Updated 9 November 2021) This article is now out of date.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 27 October 2021) Due to the discovery in the United Kingdom of the more transmissible variant of the virus that causes CoVID-19, as of 28 December 2020, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began requiring that airline companies collect US bound traveler attestations and review documentation of negative test results for Covid-19.  From November 8, 2021, they will also 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" or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 within the past 90 days.  A national interest exception to travel will no longer be required for fully vaccinated foreign travelers.

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. 

By: Polina Dashevsky, Summer Intern

US Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) as a rule should not reside outside of the US. Some do alternate six months in both the US and their home country, which is permitted. Sometimes situations beyond their control delay an LPR's return to the US.

By: Claire Graham, Summer Intern

July 8, 2020, MIT and Harvard filed a joint suit against ICE and the US Department of Homeland Security in the Massachusetts federal court to stop the Department of Homeland Security from reversing their earlier policy of flexibility around online classes during the pandemic. Did the plaintiffs have a right to sue on a mere Broadcast Message telling stakeholders about the rule to be published in the future?