With all the goings on of the world, including covid-19, it’s easy to get distracted. Quietly, over the weekend, the United States rolled out a list of ‘national interest’ exceptions which mean quite a few European and UK travelers may once again visit the United States of America, despite the Presidential Proclamation banning arrivals from the UK, Europe and Ireland.
If you’re a business traveler, student, investor, or academic, you may be in luck…
The US State Department updated its US Visa News information page over the weekend with two interesting pieces regarding long term visa holders, but also a new list of people who may qualify for an exemption to current travel bans, based on their line of work – ie business travel, or status as a student. The update offers…
“Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland). Qualified business and student travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States even as PPs 9993 and 9996 remain in effect.
Naturally, like many things “government” around the world these days, very few details or instructions as to the who, or how’s needed to actually gain one of these exemptions are available.
Nonetheless, the news is a huge start for rebooting economies on both sides of the pond, with business travel once again allowed, as well as students.
Currently, the USA offers clear exemptions to the ban for passengers with the following visas: A-1, A-2, C-1, C-1/D, C-2, C-3, D, E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, IR-4, IH-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa; according to IATA and the Timatic resource, used by airlines.
Presumably, the news will mean that far more business and investment travelers will be invited back to the skies, and onto US soil. If whether you’ll be eligible to travel to the USA is still as confusing as it was before your web browser brought you here, the US State Department resource suggests contacting your local US embassy to inquire about your individual circumstances for exemption.
“Travelers who believe their travel falls into one of these categories or is otherwise in the national interest may request a visa appointment at the closest Embassy or Consulate and a decision will be made at the time of interview. Travelers are encouraged to refer to the Embassy/Consulate website for detailed instructions on what services are currently available and how to request an appointment.”
The Timatic resource used by airlines to determine travel eligibility continues with “passengers with documents issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or U.S. Department of State indicating that the passenger is exempt from the restriction” are also able to visit, which presumably opens the door for those granted business travel exemptions and others mentioned above.
There’s just one more complication: anyone who is exempt, but is coming from Europe, or the UK, is requested to self isolate for 14 days. It’s unclear if the policy, last updated on June 8th, will be adapted given the new news. Given that most business travel takes place over a matter of hours, or very few days, that requirement would stymie any plans.
With the move, the United States is clearly looking for some reciprocity, via matching exemptions for Americans to visit Europe for work purposes, stating “We appreciate the transparency and concerted efforts of our European partners and allies to combat this pandemic and welcome the EU’s reciprocal action to allow key categories of essential travel to continue.”
So yeah, some European and UK travelers can visit the United States of America again, but it’s complicated.