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The U.S. Department of State Updates National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland

Published on October 2, 2020

The Department of State confirmed and updated certain National Interest Exceptions to the travel ban imposed on travelers from the Schengen Aera, United Kingdom, and Ireland. The Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Specifically, international students with valid visas will no longer need to contact an embassy or consulate to request a national interest exception to the travel ban. Following are the National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland) as confirmed by the U.S. Department of State:

  • Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual national interest exception to travel to the U.S.
  • 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 a national interest exception to travel.
  • Business travelers, investors, academics, J-1 students, journalists, and treaty traders and investors who have a valid visa in the appropriate class, an ESTA authorization that was issued prior to the effective date of the Presidential Proclamations, or who are seeking to apply for a new visa, and who believe they may qualify for a national interest exception, should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling. If a national interest exception is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate.

The Department of State indicated that it is still considering national interest exceptions related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States.

Please contact the immigration attorneys at Ryan Swanson if you have questions regarding national interest exceptions and travel to the U.S. from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Jen Chen can be reached at [email protected].
Cody Nunn can be reached at [email protected].
Amy Royalty can be reached at [email protected].
Marsha Mavunkel can be reached at [email protected].
Janet Cheetham can be reached at [email protected].
Joel Paget can be reached at [email protected].






This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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