UPDATE: Effective Tuesday, May 4, 2021, India will be added to the list of countries with a travel ban to the U.S. The U.S. Department of State has already confirmed that the below National Interest Exception to the travel ban will be extended to certain travelers from India, in addition to certain travelers from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa.
On April 27, 2021, the U.S. Department of State extended National Interest Exceptions for certain travelers from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa. Previously, the National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) were only available for certain travelers from the EU Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. These existing NIEs remain in effect.
The new NIEs allow incoming students with valid F-1 visas to travel directly from Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa to the U.S. to begin an academic program of study that commences August 1, 2021 or later. According to the Department of State, “Students with valid F-1 and M-1 visas intending to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021 or later 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. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.”
J-1 Students, Scholars, and Student Interns located in these countries must request an NIE from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to qualify for direct travel to the U.S. from Brazil, China, Iran, or South Africa.
The guidance is at this time very unclear on travel for continuing students and scholars. The Harvard International Office is working to get updated information regarding eligibility for NIEs from the Department of State and will update this information accordingly as soon as we have further clarification.
If you are an incoming student or scholar who is applying for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, please make sure to update any visa appointment booking, visa appointment cancellations, and visa approvals with the HIO using our online reporting form. You may submit this form multiple times to update previously-reported information. We will use your reporting anonymously to help your fellow students at the University as they navigate the visa application process.
As a reminder, some U.S. Embassies and Consulates have started to resume routine visa services depending on the in-country situation, while others may be closing again due to new in-country lockdowns. U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have different policies and procedures in place about re-opening, and they are facing severe application backlog that have accrued during their closures. You may view the current operating status of a given U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the U.S. State Department website.
If your visa appointment is cancelled, please take the steps necessary to rebook your appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly. You may find more detailed instructions in the Student visa application, Scholar visa application, and Student Intern visa application pages of the HIO website.
The Harvard International Office provides informational sessions regarding future visa options and green cards each year. This session provides general information regarding sponsorship possibilities outside of Harvard. Given the current pandemic, we have asked the attorney scheduled to present this semester to record her presentation. You may access the presentation on YouTube.
Please note that the university does not endorse any attorney or firm nor is this presentation intended to be legal advice. If you have questions for the presenter, please feel free to leave them in comments on the link and she may respond.