Answers to Common Visa Questions during COVID-19

No. Presidential Proclamation 10143 does not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

The Proclamation does not apply to:

  • Any non-U.S. citizen spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR),
  • Any non-U.S. citizen who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or LPR child, provided that the U.S. citizen or LPR child is unmarried and under the age of 21,
  • Any non-U.S. citizen who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or LPR, provided both the non-U.S. citizen and the U.S. citizen or LPR sibling are unmarried and under the age of 21,
  • Any non-U.S. citizen who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or LPR, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications.

Qualifying family members do not need a National Interest Exception or any preapproval from the Embassy or Consulates. Travelers should carry proof of the qualifying relationship (such as a birth or marriage certificate) when initiating travel to the United States.  Please note that we do not provide travelers with letters or other documents demonstrating proof of relationship issued by the Embassy or Consulates, and we do not determine what carriers will accept as proof of relationship.

Information regarding current travel restrictions can be found at travel.state.gov.  The travel restrictions bar entry of most nonimmigrant visa holders who are or have been physically present in the Schengen space within the last 14 days.  There are exceptions for certain categories of travelers.

Formore information about categories of individuals who are not subject to the Proclamation, as well as those who may qualify for an exception to the current travel restrictions, see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/presidential-proclamation-coronavirus.html

Certain travelers may qualify based on submitted plans and proposed investments and job creation. We will evaluate each case separately. If you believe you qualify, send an email to LisbonWaivers@State.gov and follow all the instructions on the auto-reply.

No.  Your travel is prohibited under PP 10143.  Please note travel for the primary purpose of tourism remains suspended.

No, most travelers, even with an approved ESTA or valid visa, will not be allowed to travel to the U.S. unless they qualify and are approved for an NIE waiver or are covered by the exceptions in the Presidential Proclamation.

PP 10143 restricts travel to the United States for persons who were physically present in the European Schengen area, including Portugal, during the 14 days prior to their attempted entry to the United States.  As a result, you will not be able to apply for a visa and travel to the United States from Portugal until routine visa processing resumes and PP 10143 is lifted.  Travel for the primary purpose of tourism remains suspended.

Visa holders with definite plans to travel who can demonstrate qualification for a National Interest Exception should send an e-mail to LisbonWaivers@State.Gov and follow the instructions on the auto-reply response.

Each request will be carefully considered as our limited resources allow.  We aim to respond to each request within 20 business days but cannot guarantee a decision date or the outcome of the decision. Errors in the submitted data may prevent approval in NIE requests.

Please note that National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) are now valid for 12 months and multiple entries from the day of approval, though only for the originally approved purpose of travel. This change is retroactive for all NIEs issued under PP 10143 or other COVID-related proclamations, even if you previously received an NIE with a shorter duration.

Certain travelers are not subject to the Proclamation, and do not need to request a National Interest Exception.  In addition to U.S. citizens and LPRs, individuals not needing a National Interest Exception include:

  • Certain qualifying family members (see above),
  • F-1 and M-1 students who already possess a valid student visa and who will begin their studies on or after August 1, 2021, and their F-2 and M-2 derivatives, and
  • Holders of nonimmigrant visas in the following categories:
    • C-1, D, C-1/D air and sea crew, and
    • Diplomats and officials: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, E-1, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6
    • Travelers who do not fall into the categories above but who may qualify for a National Interest Exception should follow the procedures outlined above.

Travelers who already possess a valid student (F-1or M-1) visa and who will begin or resume their programs on or after August 1, 2021, may travel to the United States without further action from the Embassy.  The same is true for F-2 and M-2 derivatives.  Direct travel to the United States from Portugal (or the Schengen space) with a F-1 or M-1 visa may begin no more than 30 days prior to the start date of a student’s classes.  For more information about exceptions to the current travel restrictions, please see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/covid-19-travel-restrictions-and-exceptions.html

If you need to apply for a first time (or renewal) F/M visa, you can schedule an appointment by visiting https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-pt/niv/. These visas do not require a National Interest Exception (NIE) waiver.

No, most travelers, even with an approved ESTA or valid visa, will not be allowed to travel to the United States. This type of travel does not qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE) at this time.

Workers who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure sectors may qualify for a National Interest Exception, as may their dependents.  Please review https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/presidential-proclamation-coronavirus.html  and follow the above procedures if you can demonstrate your eligibility.

Please note that nonimmigrant visa holders (including H-1B holders) who are not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10143 based on their familial relationship to a U.S. citizen or LPR spouse or unmarried minor child (see above) do not need a National Interest Exception.  Such travelers should bring proof of the qualifying relationship to present to airline officials when initiating travel to the United States.  The U.S. Embassy in Portugal does not provide letters to airlines confirming relationships.

Information on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 testing requirement for all air travelers to the United States can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

At this time, travelers are not required to be vaccinated prior to entering the United States.  Travel restrictions are subject to change, however, and individuals should review the latest guidance prior to making any travel plans.  Up to date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions can be found on the CDC’s Travel page.  Student visa holders should contact their school directly for institution-specific requirements.

Note: Being fully vaccinated does not exempt travelers from Presidential Proclamation 10143. Most non-immigrant visa holders (and those with an approved ESTA) still need an approved National Interest Exception (NIE) waiver regardless of vaccination status.

You need not be concerned about a lack of an annotation on your visa. There are many types of cases that will not receive an annotation, including those who have demonstrated that they are not subject to the Proclamation, those whose visas were issued prior to the Proclamation, and certain categories of visa holders who are eligible for blanket waivers, including F-1 and M-1 students with start or resumption dates on or after August 1, 2021. NIEs are processed electronically and do not require any additional letters to airlines.

Travelers who already possess a valid student (F-1 or M-1) visa, including those continuing Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs, and who will resume their programs on or after August 1, 2021, may travel to the United States without further action from the Embassy in Portugal.  Travel to the United States from Portugal (or the Schengen space) with a F-1 or M-1 visa may begin no more than 30 days prior to the resumption date of a student’s classes or CPT/OPT program.

The Proclamation does not apply to non-U.S. citizen travelers with certain qualifying familial relationships with a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR); please see above for qualifying relationships.

F2 and M2 visa holders do not need an NIE to travel.  Other non-U.S. citizen travelers possessing derivative visas and who do not have a qualifying familial relationship are subject to the Proclamation and require NIEs before commencing travel to the United States from Portugal. See above for instructions on applying for an NIE.

J1s cannot travel on the blanket waiver applicable to F and M students. However, certain categories of exchange visitors are eligible for the National Interest Exception (NIE) including, but not limited to:

  • researchers, student interns and scholars with a program start date after August 1, 2021.
  • interns and trainees on USG sponsored programs
  • au pairs providing care for covid-19 first responders or researchers OR for children with special needs
  • Fulbright exchange participants
  • specialized teachers with program numbers beginning with G-5

Your NIE eligibility will be evaluated at the time of your interview. If you already have a visa, please follow the instructions for requesting an NIE.

J1 Physicians sponsored by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates are not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10143.

For a full list of J-1 categories eligible for the National Interest Exception, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/covid-19-travel-restrictions-and-exceptions.html