This serves as an update to prior notifications we have published, related to travel to the U.S. and processing of visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm. The U.S. Embassy in Stockholm’s policy currently is that they will ONLY issue nonimmigrant visas to applicants who also qualify for National Interest Exception (NIE). In other words, a visa applicant who does not qualify for NIE, will not be issued a visa. It should also be noted that the requirements for NIE have in part changed over time. Current requirements are that the applicant must show he/she is seeking to “provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure” or is “traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs”. This most recent amendment was published by the Department of State on May 27, 2021. This most recent change to the requirements for NIE, as a practical matter, has significantly narrowed down the number of people who now can qualify for NIE.
However, for anyone who previously in the past 12 months has been approved for NIE, there is some good news. On July 6, 2021, the Department of State extended the validity of any National Interest Exceptions (NIE) issued to travelers subject to restrictions under Presidential Proclamations 9984 (China), 9992 (Iran), 10143 (Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland, Brazil and South Africa) and 10199 (India). Simply put, this means, any NIE issued to a person in the past 12 months are now automatically extended for 12 months from the date of approval and valid for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted.
Finally, while some U.S. Embassies in Europe have allowed third country nationals, including Swedish citizens, to schedule visa applications there instead of in their home countries, we are beginning to see a trend where embassies are now removing this option for non-residents and/or have limited the practice to only a few visa categories and applicants that qualify for a NIE.Therefore, we want to stress to anyone thinking of this creative option, to be careful and beware that changes can be implemented without prior notice. For anyone currently in the U.S., if possible, you may want to reconsider traveling outside the U.S. this summer, particularly if you were planning to renew your visa.
Above summary of considerations are not intended to be exhaustive nor to serve as legal advice. The purpose is simply to inform and remind you of factors and obstacles to consider if you plan to travel outside of and reenter the U.S. this summer. In general, always make sure to verify current entry requirements for any country you plan to enter. Please note that travel bans and restrictions are like moving targets and may change without prior notice. For legal advice based on your specific circumstances, make sure you consult with your particular immigration attorney.
Annette Gustafsson Guenther