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March 10, 2021

Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, students, and journalists may qualify for national interest exceptions under the Presidential Proclamation covering travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland. Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States even as the Proclamation remains in effect following the procedures below.

Watch the video for all the details on the difference between National Interest Waiver & National Interest Exemption

Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual national interest exception to travel. Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.

Business travelers, investors, academics, J-1 students, journalists, and treaty traders who have a valid visa in the appropriate class, or who are seeking to apply for a visa, and believe they may qualify for a national interest exception should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling. If a national interest exception is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate.

The Department of State also continues to grant national interest exceptions for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.

National security can mean financial hardship to an employer. It is important to show how the beneficiary can not adequately perform the job remotely and evidence of how it impacts the petitioning company if they are not in the US to perform the job. 

These decisions are made in a discretionary basis at US Consulates and can be difficult to obtain. 

While these situations are waivers of travel bans they are not National Interest Waivers, these are Greencards under the EB-2 category that waive the labor certification process in the National Interest. 

These permanent residency visas are available for people who meet the underlying criteria of the EB-2 which are either an advanced degree, which is either a masters or doctorate degree, have a bachelors plus five years’ experience or possess exceptional ability which is where you can establish two of the listed criteria. 

The next step is to prove National Interest which is substantial merit and national importance. This basically means the endeavor is significant and it has impact. National importance does not require national scope, however. This is proven by statements by the Beneficiary. In sum, what are you doing and how will it make a difference? From Business plans to proof of concept to opening for business and producing goods and services. The farther along and bigger the better.  

The second prong is well positioned. It is a stronger case for a CEO or a higher-ranking person but having an impactful role in the company can work. Proof can be education, skills, knowledge, and record of success in related efforts.

The third prong is beneficial to the USA. This is where we prove that the waiver of the labor certification is better than waiving it. One of the best arguments here is that this person owns the company so they cannot do a labor cert but they created a number of jobs for Americans. 

If you would like more information of these two different but similar sounding visas go to and schedule a free strategy session. We can discuss how to file your registrations or cases. Our lawyers will be processing our cases using the OnlineVisas Intelligent Immigration Platform, the most effective and efficient visa building tool in the industry.

We build 20-30 page briefs that identify issues upfront and answer them with leading case law and other authority as if we are answering an RFE upfront. The beautiful magazine-style brief is supported by evidence we review, analyze and make suggestions and other documents we create on our platform. For volume corporate clients we are so confident in our process and documentation that we have dropped our fees to $499 per H-1B visa and free RFEs if you agree to file 20 in a year.

What's the difference between National Interest waiver & national interest exemption

About the author 

Jon Velie

About the author: Jon Velie has practiced Immigration law since 1993. He is CEO of, the intelligent Immigration platform. Jon is an Amazon number one best-selling author of H1B Visa: Application & Approval, is regularly covered by major media and has won a number of international awards. Jon can be contacted at or 405-310-4333 office or 405-821-5959 mobile.

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