An official website of the United States government

Expansion of National Interest Exception Travel
January 1, 2020

In support of Norwegian and U.S. government efforts to minimize non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, at this time, Embassy Oslo will only adjudicate non-immigrant visa applications for persons ordinarily resident in Norway, or who can demonstrate clear ties to Norway, and are legally in the country at the time they make the appointment.  Further, those applications may only be for those categories of visas currently excepted from the restrictions under the presidential proclamations limiting travel during the pandemic.  Persons resident in consular districts outside Norway will need to apply in their country of residence.

Eligible travelers

Some of the categories of travelers that may qualify for a National Interest Exception to the 
January 25 Presidential Proclamation include: 

  • Humanitarian: Parents whose child will be born to surrogacy in the United States; anyone requiring urgent medical treatment in the United States; if you have an immediate family member in the United States who is gravely ill, or for bereavement travel. 
  • Economic:  Temporary travel that provides vital support for critical infrastructure; technical experts and specialists to install or maintain machinery and other specialized equipment; travel that provides a substantial economic benefit to the U.S. economy; pilots and air crew that are traveling for training, or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance. 
  • Students: Traveling to the United States to pursue a full course of study or participate in an exchange program as a bona fide student.  
  • Academics:  All exchange visitors traveling to the United States in the following categories:  Professors, Research Scholars, Short Term Scholars, Specialists, certain Au pairs and certain J-1 applicants who travel to participate in ECA identified exchange visitor programs for interns, summer work and travel, camp counselors, trainees, or teachers.  
  • Others: Immigrant and fiancé(e) visa holders.

How to Request A National Interest Exception:

Travelers Without Valid Visas

If you believe that you qualify for a National Interest Exception, need to travel immediately, and require a visa, please please follow the instructions on the NIE Request Checklist.

We strongly recommend that all current and prospective F-1 and M-1 students review the comprehensive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) FAQ. This includes important new information about full course of study requirements and online learning, Form I-20, employment, and the SEVIS fee. Please note that new students beginning their program may not travel to attend schools that are only offering online instruction, even if they hold a valid student visa. Admission to the United States is a matter for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S. Port of Entry and all travelers are subject to questioning. No assurances are given in advance.

Travelers With Valid Visas

F-1, F-2, M-1, and M-2 Students With Valid Visas:  

Students with valid F-1, F-2, M-1 and M-2 visas intending do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel. They may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.

All Other Travelers With Valid Visas:

All other travelers who already have valid visas or approved ESTA must receive approval for a national interest exception prior to travel. To request a National Interest Exception, please follow the instructions on the NIE Request Checklist.

Processing Times:

Due to a large volume of inquiries, it may take several weeks to review your NIE request.  We recommend that travelers contact us at least a month in advance to their planned travel. You will receive a formal response to your NIE request by e-mail.

Please do not send multiple e-mails to inquire about the status of your request as this causes significant delays.

Extension of Validity for National Interest Exceptions

On June 29, 2021, the Department of State extended the validity of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for travelers subject to restrictions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, 10143, 10199, and similar subsequent PPs related to the spread of COVID-19.  Unless otherwise indicated, existing NIEs will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted. More details can be found on the Department of Homeland Security website.

All individuals are reminded that their admission remains subject to a determination by Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry and that they may be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.