NRI Helpdesk: Do you need a valid visa to apply for an NIE exception or would a valid petition work?


Since immigration rules are constantly changing with the pandemic situation, it is difficult to keep up to date.

We have set up an Immigration Helpdesk for our NRI readers. Write to us [email protected] and our team of experts will deal with the most pressing problems.

* Please note that the questions have been edited and / or summarized so that we can answer similar questions immediately and that the answers are clear and relevant to our audience.

* We do not provide advice on career planning, hiring, or job vacancies. Questions about looking for a job or other career-relevant topics therefore remain unanswered.

I am pursuing an MBA in the UK and I want to move to the US after graduation. What are my options?

There is no automatic way for you to move to the US even if you have a UK MBA. You could go to the US if you can find a job in the US and your employer is willing to sponsor you. Most work visas in the US have a numerical limit and you may have to wait your turn and enter a lottery even if you find a job and the employer is willing to sponsor you. Please seek specific legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

When will the US Embassy and Consulates in India start processing student visas? Visa dates are currently available in late 2021 and early 2022. Most students have their program start dates in mid-August. Planning future travel plans and completing the admission formalities is very difficult for the students.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India announced on June 10, 2021 that student visa appointments will be available starting Monday, June 14, 2021. Indian students seeking a visa for a program start date on August 1, 2021 or later should book the first available date as they will be allowed to travel to the United States for their fall semester within 30 days of their university course / program starting. Students from India who start their studies on August 1, 2021 or later do not need a formal NIE.

I was supposed to start an internship with a J-1 visa in a well-known hotel in the USA. I applied for the National Interest Exception (NIE) and it was denied? Do I qualify for a NIE? If not, should I postpone my start date?

J-1 students, scholars, and interns can apply for an NIE at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their jurisdiction to qualify for direct travel to the U.S. and it has been denied. You can travel to a third country and spend 14 days there before arriving in the US. However, it can be difficult to find a country that will take you straight from India. You may also have difficulties getting a visa or a flight to this third country.

It is best to seek advice from a qualified attorney as to whether you should postpone your J-1 internship.

I have approval for an EB-1 Visa in the Extraordinary Skills Category and my case is considered documentary qualified. My areas of expertise are Human Coronavirus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus and I worked as a research fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before coming to India. Do I qualify for a NIE? If so, how do I prove it?

The US government continues to grant National Interest Exemptions (NIEs) to qualified travelers wishing to enter the US for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security. If you believe that you are covered by these conditions or that your travel is in the national interest of the United States, you should contact the United States embassy or consulate responsible for you.

It is best to explain in detail why you think you are entitled to an NIE and include as many documents as possible when you first contact us. External confirmations, letters of support from the employer, etc. can also be helpful. In either case, it is best to hire a qualified lawyer to assist you with your NIE application.

My underage child with US citizens and I are in India and my husband is still in the US. I have an approved H-4 petition, but my appointment to apply for a visa using the drop box option has been canceled. Do we need a valid visa to apply for an NIE exception, or will it also work in my case since I have a valid petition?

An approved petition is not a travel document, so you will need an H-4 visa to travel to the United States. However, you don’t need a NIE because you have a minor child who is a US citizen. You will have to wait for visa appointments and consulates are expected to open appointments for H applicants in August / September 2021, as announced in a live meeting of a senior consular officer on June 10, 2021.

I got my L-1B flat-rate visa earlier this year but was unable to travel due to the travel ban for people who were in India. I am considering traveling to a third country and staying there for 14 days before traveling to the US. Since this is my first time traveling to the US, would this affect my eligibility to enter the US? Do you also have any idea when the travel ban will be lifted?

The strategy you described of spending 14 days in a third country has been successfully followed by others, but their exact circumstances may differ from yours. Your entry into the United States upon your arrival at the airport (or by other means of travel) will depend on your specific visa category and circumstances. The immigration officers from Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry decide on entry into the country.

The government has not disclosed when the ban will be lifted on travelers who have been in India within 14 days of arriving in the US

My friend who is stuck in India has a valid H-1B visa and is not allowed to work from home (i.e. India) for security reasons. Could you please confirm if he can apply for NIE? If so, what are the steps to follow? If not, what other options can we consider? Your friend can apply for a NIE if they think they qualify based on the criteria listed at

If possible, he can spend 14 days in a third country before entering the USA. Among other things, visa and travel regulations in this third country must be taken into account.

Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner, LawQuest

The author’s views do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Online, nor do they constitute legal advice or legal representation. The practical tips contained in the written documents are based on the author’s experience and the current status of laws and regulations. Please conduct legal research and analysis, or hire an independent attorney for your particular situation, as laws and requirements can change quickly and the author’s experience may differ from your own.


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