Who May Travel to The U.S. or Apply for a U.S. VISA?
November 28, 2020
Updated November 24 2020
Presidential Proclamation – Frequently Asked Questions
Presidential Proclamation 9993 bans entry to the United States of persons present in the Schengen Area (including Poland). Presidential Proclamation 10052 imposes certain restrictions on visas in order to protect the U.S. labor market.
For those holding valid U.S. non-immigrant visas, some may travel without restrictions, while others may travel only by first seeking approval from the U.S. Embassy. If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa or ESTA and wish to travel to the United States, please carefully read the information below to determine what restrictions may apply to you.
For those who wish to apply for a U.S. visa, the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and Consulate General in Krakow are approving only a small number of certain nonimmigrant visas at this time, as described below.
THE GUIDANCE ON THIS PAGE REGARDING WHO MAY TRAVEL TO THE U.S. OR APPLY FOR A U.S. VISA MAY CHANGE. PLEASE CHECK BACK REGULARLY FOR UPDATES.
2. I have a valid non-immigrant visa. Can I travel to the United States?
You may travel to the United States without following any additional procedures if you hold a valid visa in any of the following categories:
- Official visas: A, G, NATO
- Air/sea crew visas: C1/D, B1 (only if annotated “OCS” for seaman working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States, or if traveling for work at off-shore locations such as windfarms)
- Student visas: F (if holding a valid Form I-20) or M (if holding a valid Form I-20).
If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa of another category not listed above, you must follow additional procedures in order to be allowed to travel to the United States, as described below.
3. I have a valid visa in a category not listed above. Can I travel to the United States?
If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa in a category not listed above, you may travel only if the U.S. Embassy approves a “national interest exception (NIE)” for your trip. If approved, the NIE will allow you only one entry to the United States within 30 days of the date of approval by the Embassy. In general, these national interest exceptions are provided to certain businesspeople providing a substantial economic benefit to the United States, academics, and persons traveling for specific humanitarian reasons. The following categories of non-immigrant visa holders may qualify for an NIE under PP9993:
- B1 (or B1/B2) or O visa holders (and their dependents) who are senior-level managers and executives traveling for business reasons.
- B1 (or B1/B2) visa holders seeking to install or service complex machinery or equipment and who have specialized knowledge to do so.
- P visa holders who are professional athletes (and their dependents) and essential staff, traveling to participate in a major sporting event.
- E visa holders (treaty traders and investors).
- J visa holders (with valid Form DS-2019) who are professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists.
- B2 (or B1/B2) visa holders traveling for lifesaving emergency medical treatment (including for family members).
- H-1B visa holders (and their dependents) who are public health or health care professionals, medical researchers, or are engaged with projects essential to a U.S. government agency.
- L visa holders (and their dependents) who are public health or healthcare professionals or are medical researchers.
PP10052 adds additional restrictions to certain H, L, and J visa holders and applicants in categories that are not included above. For more information on how to request an NIE for these travelers, please email WarsawNIE@state.gov. For the latest information regarding NIEs, please go to the Department of State’s U.S. Visas News . NIEs under PP9993 are described here. Guidelines for PP 10052 NIE requests for H, L, and J visas are here.
If you meet one of the foregoing categories, you may seek a national interest exception (NIE) by following the procedures in items 5 and 6 below. Except for those categories in item 2 above, any non-immigrant visa holder who tries to travel to the United States without obtaining an NIE will not be permitted to board a U.S.-bound flight.
4. I have a valid ESTA. May I travel to the United States?
ESTA holders who are traveling for business, humanitarian, or urgent medical reasons (see item 3 above) may also seek a national interest exception (NIE) to PP9993 by following the procedures in item 5 below. If you attempt to travel on an ESTA without obtaining an NIE in advance, you will not be permitted to board a U.S.-bound flight and your ESTA will be cancelled.
5. I have a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa or ESTA and believe that I may qualify for a national interest exception (NIE). How do I apply?
If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa and believe that you qualify for a national interest exception, you should write to WarsawNIE@state.gov and provide the following information for each traveler:
- Full name (as it appears in your passport)
- Date of birth
- Scan of your passport bio page
- Scan of your current U.S. visa or ESTA confirmation
- Description of the purpose of your proposed trip to the United States (including type of visa)
- Any documentation supporting your request (e.g., information regarding your proposed business visit, the nature of your humanitarian reasons, etc.)
If the Embassy approves your national interest exception (NIE) request, the NIE allows you to take only one trip to the United States, and you must travel within 30 days of the date of the approval. If you wish to travel again in the future, you will need to seek another NIE approval.
6. I was granted an NIE. What do I need to do at the airport?
Information on your NIE will be entered into applicable systems to authorize US travel. Arrive at the airport early. If the airline has any questions on your travel eligibility, it should contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG). You may contact the CBP Travel Coordination Center for formal and informal inquiries related to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at firstname.lastname@example.org or at U.S. phone number 1-877-227-5511.
7. I wish to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Are appointments available?
A limited number of appointments for specific categories of non-immigrant visas are available at U.S. Embassy Warsaw. The consular officer will determine whether you are eligible to travel under the current Presidential Proclamations at the time of the interview. Thus, for example, qualified students (categories F and M) or air/sea crew (category C1/D or certain B1 visas) may be processed as normal. Other categories may also be processed, but will only be issued if the consular officer determines that a “national interest exception” (NIE) applies as described above (i.e., business travelers providing a substantial economic benefit, academics, and persons traveling for humanitarian reasons). If you do not believe that you will qualify for a visa due to the restrictions in the Presidential Proclamations, you may wish to postpone your appointment to a later date.
For travelers seeking an appointment for a B1/B2 visa: if you have an urgent need to travel on a B1/B2 visa, and believe you are eligible for an NIE (see Item 3 above for more information), you may request an expedited appointment. To request an expedited appointment, please make an appointment in the system for any open time. You will then have the option to request an expedited appointment. A consular officer will review your request, and someone will contact you with more information if it is approved.
8. Can I get a refund of my application fee or ESTA fee?
Unfortunately, visa application fees and ESTA application fees are not refundable. You can reschedule your visa appointment at no additional charge during the one-year period beginning on the date the fee was originally paid. Approved ESTAs remain valid for up to two years.
9. I’m not from Poland and my case is still pending with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. Please transfer my profile back to my country. I wish to apply there.
You may be able to use your existing account profile in your home country. However, the fee you paid in Poland cannot be transferred to pay for a case processed outside of Poland. If you wish to apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside Poland, you will need to make a new fee payment and fill out another application form according to the application procedures at that location.
10. My spouse is a U.S. citizen but I am not. What do I need in order to travel?
As the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you are not subject to the Presidential Proclamation travel restrictions, and do not need a National Interest Exception (NIE). However, you do need a visa or ESTA, and you must travel with proof of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship and an original marriage certificate to prove your relationship. If traveling on ESTA, a notation must be added to the ESTA system to allow you to travel. Therefore, If you are planning to travel to the U.S. from the Schengen Area on ESTA, please contact WarsawNIE@state.gov for more information at least 10 days before you plan to travel to ensure your ESTA authorization is valid for travel. For a full list of travelers not subject to the Proclamations, please see P.P. 9993.