How To Apply for NIE USA from India?

National Interest Exception

Last Updated on Nov 15th, 2023 by Renu Dahiya, Leave a Comment

The United States had extensive travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19. These restrictions prohibited the entry of non-citizens into the United States until and unless they got NIE approval from the Consulate of the USA. Under the NIE program, US authorities allowed some specific people who were eligible to qualify for an NIE, to enter the US. 

Please Note: On 8th November 2021, the United States lifted the travel ban which resulted in the approved NIEs being no longer valid. 

Nonetheless, in some exceptional conditions, the NIE program can be used in the future. Let’s go through the complete details about the National Interest Exception program, NIE letter, NIE Visa, NIE requirements India to USA and its new updates. 

What Is National Interest Exception? 

After the US COVID-19 travel ban, there were some exceptions to this ban, and the NIE program is one of them. The National Interest Exception is an application submitted to the US Consulate which allows travel to the US for people whose entry is of national interest. 

Before the US travel ban was lifted, non-citizens, who wanted to go to the US, were allowed to travel to the US. They just needed to apply for an NIE visa and prove that their entry into the US is a matter of national interest. After getting official NIE approval from the US consulate, they were exempted from the US entry bans and got a waiver. The US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State considered each application on a case-by-case basis. 

Affect Of The Lifting Of The US Travel Ban On NIE

On November 8th, 2021, The United States lifted the US travel ban and applied COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements to all travelers who wished to enter USA. But, on grounds of certain special reasons, a non-citizen whose entry to the US  is of national interest may travel to the US without COVID-19 vaccination. 

Qualifying Criteria for a National Interest Exception

Qualifying criteria for a National Interest Exception India application has been determined by the US authorities in which they mentioned about the individuals who were eligible to apply for an NIE, individuals who did not need an NIE, and the NIE application process. 

The following travelers were able to obtain a National Interest Exception:

  • Valid US visa holders
  • Valid ESTA travel authorization holders 
  • New US visa applicants

All these NIE regulations were applied to travelers from the 26 countries of the Schengen area, Brazil, China (except Hong Kong and Macau), India, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Persons Qualified for an NIE

Individuals that fall into one of the following categories were eligible to apply for an NIE:

  • Individuals who provide vital support or executive direction to critical infrastructure.
  • Individuals who provide vital support or executive direction for economic activity in the US. 
  • Individuals traveling to the US for humanitarian or medical emergencies.
  • Students and their dependents traveling to the US  on F or M visa to study a full course or on a J visa to participate in an exchange program as bonafide students.
  • Individuals traveling to the US on J visas as Professors, Research Scholars, Short Term Scholars, or Specialists. 
  • Healthcare professionals to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or individuals working in the public health care sector.
  • Individuals working for US national security reasons.
  • Journalists with an I visa
  • Harvest Workers
  • US authorities’ service providers (such as: military)
  • Aircrew members/ pilots traveling to the US for training purposes and aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance.

16 critical infrastructure NIE Categories eligible for :

  1. Chemical
  2. Commercial Facilities 
  3. Communications
  4. Critical Manufacturing 
  5. Dams
  6. Defense Industrial Base
  7. Emergency Services
  8. Energy
  9. Financial 
  10. Food and Agriculture
  11. Government Facilities
  12. Healthcare and Public Health
  13. Information Technology
  14. Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste
  15. Transportation Systems
  16. Water

People Who Did Not Need An NIE

Individuals who fall into the following NIE categories were not subject to the US travel ban and did not need an NIE visa:

  • Citizens of USA
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders)
  • Family members (Spouse and Children under 21) of USA citizens or Green Card Holders
  • Members of US Armed Forces or their family members
  • Crew members of airlines or shipping companies (C-1/D visas)
  • Individuals who provide support to US law enforcement objectives
  • Diplomats, government officials or their family members (A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO visas)

Where And How Did One Apply For An NIE?

One had to submit the application for the National Interest Exception to the US Consulate. This was applied in both situations, whether one already had a valid visa, or whether one was applying for a new US visa. There were some variations in the process of applying for an NIE depending on the consulate one was applying through. The application needed to prove the urgency and importance of travel to the US. Let’s look at the documents that had to be prepared to apply for an NIE:

1A letter of justification
2A copy of your passport
3Proposed travel plans 
4ESTA approval or a copy of your visa

Also, one had to submit additional documents required by the consulate, depending on the application

The NIE India to USA application email included the following information for all the travelers who were seeking an exception, as it appears on the visa:

  • Last Name:
  • First Name:
  • Date of Birth, in DDMMMYYY format
  • Place of Birth:
  • Gender (M/F):
  • Country of Citizenship:
  • Passport Number:
  • Visa Number:
  • Visa Category:
  • Issuing Post Name (upper left corner of visa)
  • Travel Dates:
  • Travel purpose:
  • National interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of an NIE:

This National Interest Exception India online application email needed to be sent to the consulate which issued your visa (Issuing Post Name). Here are the email Ids for each consulate:

Cost and Validity of an NIE

There is no additional government filing fee for an NIE card application for those who already hold a valid US visa or ESTA permit. If someone has applied for an NIE application as a part of his US visa or ESTA application, the application fees for the visa or ESTA needed to be paid but with no extra charge for an NIE.

An NIE approval from the US Consulate allowed multiple entries into the US within 12 months from the date of NIE approval India to USA. And, for a new trip to the US, a new NIE card application needed to be submitted.


During the US travel ban, if someone was subject to the travel restrictions and did not qualify for an NIE, then that individual could travel to a third country, not subject to the bans, for 14 days and then travel into the United States. But, individuals who fall into the exceptional NIE categories were not subject to the US travel ban and did not need an NIE visa. The US entry ban has been lifted on November 8th, 2021 which resulted in the non-validity of approved NIE applications. Now, COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements are applied to all travelers who wish to enter the US. But, an individual (non-citizen) whose entry to the US  is a matter of national interest may still use NIE to travel to the US without COVID-19 vaccination in some special situations.


Q. How much does it cost to apply for an NIE for travel to USA from India?

Ans: There is no additional government filing fee for an NIE application form.

Q. How long does it take to get an NIE application decision?

Ans: It will probably take up to 14 business days to get a decision for NIE for travel to USA from India. 

Q. Is it possible to apply for an NIE India to USA again after getting rejected?

Ans: Yes, you can apply for an NIE visa even after getting rejected, but you should be prepared to provide additional documentation to the Consulate to verify the reason for your travel and why it is in the national interest. 

Q. Can my dependents (spouse and children under 21) travel with me?

Ans: Yes, your spouse and children (below the age of 21) can travel with you, just make sure to add their information to the NIE application form. 

Q. Can H4 and dependent visa holders apply for an NIE? 

Ans: Yes, the NIE letter for H4 family separation can be applied by visa holders.  

That’s the complete information about the NIE program you must know before applying for the same. We will keep you updated with all the new updates regarding NIE with our blogs so be in touch. 

Do you have any further questions related to how to apply for NIE USA from India? We at MyTicketsToIndia are here to help you with everything – from providing the best solutions to your queries to booking flights tickets to USA from India and back. 

Our travel experts will make the flight booking process hassle-free for you, with no hidden costs and complete transparency. Contact us to score the best deals on your flight tickets, we’re here for you.

Happy Journey! 🙂

About Renu Dahiya | View Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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