Returning Students: Update on Presidential Proclamation 10199

On June 28th 2021, the US Embassy updated the Presidential Proclamation to include “new or returning students whose schools open after August 1, 2021.” What does this mean exactly? I am a second-year student at University of Maryland on H4 visa who is currently stuck in India. My sister is also a middle school student. According to the new update, are we allowed to go back to the US without an NIE after August 1?

Per the below link, only F & M visa students are covered under NIE. If you have a valid H4 visa to travel back to the US, you may send an email to the consulate that issued your visa and ask for NIE approval by explaining that even if you are on H4 status, you are a student. You may attached a proof showing you are enrolled in the Fall 2021 semester.

https://in.usembassy.gov/visas/national-interest-exception-frequently-asked-questions/

Visa holders with definite plans to travel who can demonstrate qualification for a National Interest Exception may contact the Embassy or Consulate that issued their visa to request a national interest exception prior to travel:

The email must include the following information for all travelers seeking an exception, as it appears on the visa:

Last name:

First name:

Date of birth, in DDMMMYYY format (ie – 01JAN2021):

Gender (M/F):

Country of birth:

Country of citizenship:

Passport number:

Visa Number* and Category:

Issuing Post Name (upper left corner of visa):

Travel dates:

Travel purpose and national interest category, including a clear justification for receipt of a NIE:

*The visa number, also known as the visa foil number, is located on the lower right of the visa.

Each request will be carefully considered as our limited resources allow. Emails in languages other than English may slow response time. We aim to respond to each request within two weeks 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, when granted, are valid for a single entry within 30 days of approval.

@Kalpesh_Dalwadi
Thank you for replying so quick! However, my question is still not answered.
In the June 24th update in the Presidential Proclamation, a new category was added. Right now, the Proclamation reads:
"These three categories of travelers are automatically considered for National Interest Exception (NIE) at the Port of Entry and do not require advance approval of a NIE from an embassy or consulate.

  • immigrants of all categories (not applicable to Proclamation 10199, which only covers nonimmigrant travel);
  • fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their dependents (K visas);
  • Students (F and M visas) as described [here];
  • New or returning students present in China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, or India may arrive no earlier than 30 days before the start of an academic program beginning August 1, 2021 or after, including optional practical training (OPT); (THIS IS THE NEW CATEGORY)

The following categories of travelers may apply for a National Interest Exception (NIE) if subject to one or more of the four proclamations.

Travelers who believe their travel is within one of the below categories should consult the website of the nearest embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for an NIE.

  • certain exchange visitors as detailed within [this] article;
  • exchange students and academics (certain J visas to include those in the professor, research scholar, short-term scholar, or specialist categories);
  • new or returning students and academics present in China, Brazil, Iran, South Africa, or India may arrive no earlier than 30 days before the start of an academic program beginning August 1, 2021 or after; (THIS IS THE NEW CATEGORY)"

The new category consists of new/returning students. What does this actually mean? I am a second-year university student on H4 visa. My sister is a seventh-grader. Will we be considered as “new/returning student”?
If yes, then do we have to apply for NIE or not (since the category is listed in both the places)?

Short answer is yes. However they haven’t clarified if students on H4 visa are allowed too. It only mentions F & M.

This is why I suggested to check with the consulate via email to the NIE email id.

@Kalpesh_Dalwadi
Oh I see. Thank you!
Is there a separate email or phone number for NIE inquiries?
I tried contacting the consulate for NIE via email but didn’t get a response.

When did you send the email. Dont expect that they will respond right away. It may take few days to get an answer.

We sent an email back in June with a few of our questions. All we got back was that there wasn’t enough information to file an NIE (we weren’t filing an NIE. We only emailed them our questions).

Thank you for giving us the information we need! I emailed the New Delhi Embassy this morning and they replied very quickly. They responded saying that we won’t be able to enter the US without an NIE. So, the new category doesn’t really add any value. Anyway, thank you for guiding us! I really appreciate it.

If you have valid H4 visa, you can travel to 3rd country, stayover for 14 days and then enter the US. The country you stayover must not be in the ban list.

I am expecting this ban to be removed at the earliest as other countries like Germany has already withdrawn the ban for India.

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Hopefully, the ban will be lifted soon and we won’t have to travel the long way. Thank you for all the help!

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