US Department of State Announces More Flexible National Interest Exemptions for Students and Academic Travelers

The U.S. Department of State issued updated guidance on National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers, which should facilitate more streamlined travel for F-1 and M-1 students and J-1 academics covered by exchange visitor programs — as long as they have pre-existing valid visas.

Previously, to enter the United States, individuals subject to the travel restrictions must typically gain a U.S. National Interest Exemption (NIE) by applying with the local U.S. consulate in their home countries for special permission to travel. However, based on the new guidelines, the U.S. Department of State has streamlined the process with simplified instructions for individuals who already hold valid student visa stamps, clarifying that these students will be automatically granted an NIE if entering within 30 days of their academic program start date. Now, students with F-1 and M-1 visas can travel to the United States immediately to begin the qualifying academic program (within 30 days of the program start date – Aug 1, 2021 or later).

For students who are in need of new student visa stamps or who do not already hold approved F-1 or M-1 visa stamps, they will need to be sure to allot sufficient time to contact the local embassy to obtain the new stamps and be considered for an NIE  for purposes of academic travel.

Where does that tie in with E&M? Traveling overseas, regardless as an exchange student, is stressful enough during these times and it’s important to have that international health insurance plan that covers you, no matter where you are in the world. We can provide many affordable options in minutes and have you covered immediately. That way — you can worry about studies and feel safe and at ease knowing your healthcare has been taken care of!

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