Urgent information for visa applicants regarding COVID-19 pandemic and associated visa and travel suspensions
09 July 2021
- The U.S. Embassy in Paris continues to follow procedures that prioritize the health and safety of our applicants and employees. Due to COVID-19, any visa applicants who have traveled outside of France 10 days or less before their appointment date will not be admitted to the Embassy and will be required to reschedule their appointment. Due to current health protocols, the U.S. Embassy in Paris is only accepting Non-Immigrant Visa applications from those applicants physically residing in France or Monaco.
- Effective immediately, all approved National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) are valid for 12 months/multiple entry. The extension of validity and addition of multiple entry are also effective retroactively, so if you received an NIE within the last year, your NIE is now valid for 12 months with multiple entries. The 12-month validity will begin on the date your initial NIE was granted. You do not need to take any further action and can travel on your previously issued NIE and your valid ESTA or visa.
- On January 26, 2021, the United States began requiring a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the United States. PCR and antigen test are both accepted and additional details on this requirement may be found here. This testing requirement does not change the effect of the current travel restrictions in place under Presidential Proclamation 10143. Travelers with a negative COVID-19 test result must still qualify for, and be granted, an NIE in order to travel to the United States. Vaccinated travelers still require a negative COVID-19 test and an NIE.
- Travelers who are legally married to a U.S. citizen/Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), are parents of U.S. citizen/LPR unmarried children under 21 years old, or are unmarried children under 21 years old of U.S. citizen/LPR parents do not need an NIE to travel, but still require a negative COVID-19 test.
- If you are approved for a visa and an NIE, your admission remains subject to a determination by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry. Travelers must also follow Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance regarding proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or evidence of recovery from the virus prior to entry and are to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States. We remind you that entry into the United States is limited to the purposes described in the approved NIE until relevant Presidential Proclamations (PPs) are altered or rescinded.
The United States Department of State recognizes the immense importance of international travel and commerce to the United States. Our country’s openness is a source of national strength and it is in our direct interest to maintain our free and unfettered engagement with the world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has required unprecedented actions to protect the United States and its citizens. Visas and entry to the United States for persons who have been in a Schengen country within fourteen days of intended entry are suspended by Presidential Proclamation (PP) 10143 (Previously PP 9993). When the suspension is lifted, we will resume routine visa services as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there is no information at this time as to when this measure will be lifted.
The Proclamation and its exceptions can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news.html.
On March 2, significant changes were made to the criteria for granting National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamation 10143 (extending PP 9993), which suspends travel from Schengen countries to the United States. Many applicants, who were able to qualify for a National Interest Exception previously may not be able to meet the new standards laid out in the guidance. For this reason, those currently in the United States should not leave the United States for trips back to France unless they understand that they may not be able to re-enter the United States for some time.
The limited exceptions to PP 10143 include:
- You or your immediate family member in the United States is experiencing a life-or-death medical emergency that requires the direct physical support of the traveler to meet basic life/healthcare needs. Unfortunately, even though we recognize the difficult situation created for many families, at this time attending a family funeral does not meet the strictly written criteria for an exception to the Proclamation. If you meet this criterion, please resubmit your email and place the following in the reference line “Humanitarian request, LAST NAME, First name”.
- You are traveling as an F or M student, J research scholar, or J exchange student.
- You intend to travel as an executive or senior-level employee to provide strategy and direction to U.S. and foreign firms with a substantial investment in the United States. Please indicate the challenges the U.S. entity will face in your absence. What will be the financial impact on the U.S. economy if you do not travel to the U.S. and how many jobs would potentially be impacted there?
- You intend to travel as a highly specialized professional or expert to install, service, maintain, or receive necessary training for vessels, machinery and other critical equipment required by U.S. and foreign firms with a substantial investment in the United States
- Your travel is related to supporting a major entertainment production conducted in the United States that cannot go on without you.
- You are providing vital support to critical infrastructure in the United States and your physical presence is essential to this support – i.e. you cannot complete your work remotely.
Intending French citizen and French resident travelers who believe they qualify for an NIE should send an email to ParisVisaInquiry@state.gov with the subject line: “CONSIDERATION FOR NATIONAL INTEREST EXCEPTION – [Last Name]”. Emails should include scans of the biodata passport page of all intending travelers, and scans of any valid United States visas for all travelers.
Applicants with questions about visa applications currently in process with the Embassy may send their inquiry via ParisIVPending@state.gov for Immigrant visa applications or ParisVisaInquiry@state.gov for Nonimmigrant visa applications.
In your email requests for consideration if you will be providing “vital support of critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the Department of Homeland Security or critical infrastructure linked supply chain” please be prepared to answer the following questions as accurately, and with as much detail, as possible. Submit a new expedited appointment request if you do not yet have an approved visa or ESTA. The designated critical infrastructure industries are, per the Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS/CISA) list located at https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors.
- Is your work connected with a critical infrastructure industry?
See https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors for more details.
- What are the specific activities you intend to perform?
- How do these activities directly support the critical infrastructure?
- Why are you unable to complete these activities virtually or through telework under current pandemic conditions?
Alternatively, please answer the questions below accurately:
- Is your travel related to supporting a major entertainment production conducted in the United States that cannot go on without you?
- Do you intend to travel as a highly specialized professional or expert to install, service, maintain, or receive necessary training for vessels, machinery and other critical equipment required by U.S. and foreign firms with a substantial investment in the United States?
- Do you intend to travel as an executive or senior-level employee to provide strategy and direction to U.S. and foreign firms with a substantial investment in the United States? Please indicate the challenges the U.S. entity will face in your absence. What will be the financial impact for the U.S. economy if you do not travel to the U.S. and how many jobs would be possibly impacted there?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above three questions, please provide an explanation in your request to ParisVisaInquiry@state.gov supporting your purpose of travel in no more than four sentences. Provide detailed information as to how your work will impact the U.S. economy and/or the U.S. job market iand how your travel meets the criteria for a National Interest Exception (NIE).
Effective immediately, all approved NIEs are valid for 12 months/multiple entry from date your NIE was granted. The extension of validity and addition of multiple entry are also effective retroactively, so if you received an NIE within the last year, your NIE remains valid for 12 months with multiple entries from the date your NIE was granted.
The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
What is a Visa?
A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter the United States generally must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport, a travel document issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship.
Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The Visa section of this website is all about U.S. visas for foreign citizens to travel to the United States.
(Note: U.S. citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit.).
Customer Service Statement
The Department of State manages the visa process strictly but fairly in order to best protect the United States. We are committed to the essential openness for which the United States has always been known. Travel to the United States is welcomed and encouraged.
We promise to you, the visa applicant, that:
- We will treat you with dignity and respect, even if we are unable to grant you a visa.
- We will treat you as an individual and your case as unique.
- We will remember that, to you, a visa interview may be a new or intimidating experience and that you may be nervous.
- We will use the limited time available for the interview to get as full a picture as possible of your travel plans and intentions.
- We will use our available resources to fairly assist all applicants to get appointments to allow travel in time for business, study, and other important obligations.
- We will post detailed and accurate information on visa requirements and application procedures on every Embassy and Consulate website.
- We will provide information on non-immigrant appointment waiting times at every Embassy and Consulate posted on http://travel.state.gov.
- We will explain the reason for any visa denial to you.
Furthermore, if you are a:
- Student, we will make every effort to ensure that you get an appointment and, if qualified, a visa in time to start classes.
- Medical and humanitarian emergency traveler, we will expedite processing for those dealing with life threatening emergencies.
- Business traveler, we will establish appropriate mechanisms to facilitate business travel and expedite cases of particular concern to American business.
At the same time, we expect you, the visa applicant, to:
- Plan your travel and visa application as far in advance as possible.
- Complete your application fully and accurately.
- Be forthcoming about your purpose and plans.
- Prepare for your interview by being able to clearly and concisely describe your intentions.