Travel from Austria to the U.S. - Biden's New Policy Will End the Need for National Interest Exceptions

Lifestyle & TravelTravel ♦ Published: September 22, 2021; 11:07 ♦ (Vindobona)

As announced by Biden and the White House around the UN General Assembly, as of early November it will again be possible for all adult foreign nationals, i.e. including Austrians and other foreign nationals entering the U.S. via Vienna, to enter the U.S., thus also eliminating the need for national interest exemptions (NIE). More details in the article.

Presidential Proclamation 10143, which suspended travel from the 26 Schengen Area countries, including Austria, remains in force until the exact date and details of the new policy will be announced. / Picture: © American and Austrian crossed flags by Vindobona

As announced by the White House, beginning in early November, all adult foreign nationals traveling to the United States by air must demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

This will end the need for National Interest Exceptions (NIE).

The exact date and details of the new policy have not yet been announced.

Until then, the Presidential Proclamation suspending travel from the Schengen Zone remains in force.

The U.S. Embassy Vienna is awaiting guidance before authorizing any changes, tourist visa appointments, or reconsideration of visa and NIE applications that were suspended due to COVID travel restrictions.

Presidential Proclamation 10143, which suspended travel from the 26 Schengen Area countries, including Austria, remains in force. These restrictions apply regardless if you have a valid U.S. visa, ESTA or have been fully vaccinated.

As reported by Vindobona, for the time being, travel to the United States for non-U.S. citizens is only possible with a National Interest Exception (NIE). National Interest Exceptions are very limited and do not apply to tourism or leisure travel. In other words, most travel purposes that fall under the B1/B2 visa category and ESTA will likely not qualify for a National Interest Exception.

The U.S. Embassy’s website provides a list of reasons that may qualify a person for an NIE. These include students, academics, public health professionals, government officials, crew members, those needing emergency medical treatment, humanitarian exceptions, and others whose travel is in the U.S. national interest for vital support to critical infrastructure, significant economic activity, or national security reasons.

Students with a valid F or M visa and a valid I-20 form may travel to the United States without an NIE or further action by the Embassy.

Diplomats and Government employees traveling on A or G visas also do not require NIEs. Athletes must request an NIE from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The U.S. Embassy is no longer authorized to consider sports-related NIEs.

Some travelers may qualify for family exemptions and do not require an NIE, such as legally married spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders).

NIE applicants must be legal residents and physically present in Austria. Applicants must also submit a request at least ten days in advance.

Applicants must send an email to with the subject line “NIE mm-dd-2021.” The email must contain a copy of each traveler’s visa or ESTA authorization, a copy of each traveler’s passport biographic data page, the purpose of travel (and any supporting documents) and a copy of your flight itinerary or proposed travel dates.

If the application for an NIE is approved, travelers will be notified via email.

The NIE only allows travelers a single entry into the United States within 30 days of receiving approval. Should travelers leave the United States, they must reapply for an NIE before entering again.

All COVID-19 testing and quarantining requirements still apply. As travel restrictions and testing and quarantining requirements are subject to change, it is important to consult the embassy or consulate before attempting to travel.

Full details of the new travel policy will be posted in the Vindobona U.S. section as soon as they become available.

U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria