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. Investors, including E visa holders and applicants, who were able to qualify for a National Interest Exception by showing that they would generate substantial economic impact, will now be required to show that they meet the new standards laid out in the guidance. It is likely that fewer E visa applicants will qualify to travel until the Schengen travel restrictions are lifted. For this reason, those currently in the United States on E visas 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.
In order to minimize risks to our applicants and our employees, we are limiting appointments to applicants who are likely to qualify for a National Interest Exception and to visa classifications exempted from the current travel restrictions. To this end, we have canceled all E visa appointments scheduled for March and April and are asking applicants to request an expedited appointment if they feel they qualify for an exception under these stricter criteria. More details on what qualifies and how to request an expedited appointment are below.
We do not have information on when PP 10143 or these new criteria for exceptions will be lifted.
Things remaining the same:
• Any National Interest Exception (NIE) already granted remains valid.
• Exemptions continue for United States citizens (USC), United States Legal Permanent Residents (LPR – Green-card holders); spouses of USCs and LPRs, minor children (under 21) of USCs and LPRs, and parents of minor (under 21) USCs and LPRs.
• NIEs are still valid for one entry within thirty days of being granted; each trip requires a new justification and NIE.
Investor and Trader (E category visa) visa applicants must meet the new standards below to qualify for an NIE.
In the past, the requirement was that an E visa applicant show that their travel would “provide substantial economic benefit.” This standard is being replaced by a (1) “vital support of critical infrastructure sectors as defined by the Department of Homeland Security or critical infrastructure linked supply chain” standard or a (2) “directly support the creation or retention of U.S. jobs” standard.
Vital Support of Critical Infrastructure
The designated critical infrastructure industries are, per the Department of Homeland Security/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS/CISA) list:
• Chemical Sector
• Commercial Facilities Sector
• Communications Sector
• Critical Manufacturing Sector
• Dams Sector
• Defense Industrial Base Sector
• Emergency Services Sector
• Energy Sector
• Financial Services Sector
• Food and Agriculture Sector
• Government Facilities Sector
• Healthcare and Public Health Sector
• Information Technology Sector
• Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector
• Transportation Systems Sector
• Water and Wastewater Systems Sector
The travel must be directly related to supporting the infrastructure. The examples given in Department guidance differentiate between those that would qualify – inspectors clearing deliveries or specialists who are completing essential components – and those that would not – senior executives traveling to observe operations or hold meetings. The applicant must be able to show why they cannot perform their work from outside of the United States.
Directly Support the Creation or Retention of U.S. Jobs
The second standard is still not fully detailed in our guidance. What we can convey is that we at the Embassy cannot approve exceptions based on the “directly support the creation or retention of U.S.