Urgent information for visa applicants regarding COVID-19 pandemic and associated visa and travel suspensions
02 April 2021
The U.S. Embassy in Paris continues to follow procedures that prioritize the health and safety of our applicants and employees. As a part of these efforts, any applicants who have traveled outside of France in the prior 10 days will not be admitted for their appointment and will be asked to reschedule for a future date. Additionally, and as a reminder, the U.S. Embassy in Paris only accepts applications from persons who are physically in France and Monaco. Applicants outside of France should make an appointment with the Embassy where they are currently located.
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 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
There are limited exceptions to PP 10143. These include travel on ESTA for dire humanitarian situations and travel on ESTA or a visa providing “vital support of critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the Department of Homeland Security or critical infrastructure linked supply chain”. The bar for qualifying as travel providing support of critical infrastructure sectors will be very high.
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.
- In which critical infrastructure industry is your work?
- What are the exact specific activities you intend to perform?
- How do these activities directly support the critical infrastructure?
- Why do these activities require your physical presence in the United States?
- Why will alternatives such as video conferencing, teleworking, or actions by proxy fail to directly support the critical infrastructure?
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.
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.