H4 Dependent Visa Holders: What Is NIE? And How To Get One To Travel To The US

The State Department has updated their guidance on the travel ban to include some exemptions under the National Interest Exceptions. This includes H4 dependent visa holders whose primary H1-B beneficiary is present in the U.S. This means that certain eligible H4 visa holders, primarily spouses who are stranded in India due to the Covid travel ban for Indians, may now enter the U.S. under special circumstances.

The Secretary of State made a national interest determination regarding certain categories of travelers eligible for exceptions to the entry bans per Presidential Proclamations. This includes individuals who will provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure or for significant economic activity as well as their dependents.

Covid Travel Ban: US Restricts Entry For Indians

Who is stranded in India vs. who can travel now

Currently there is a travel ban on anyone who had presence in China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Can You Enter The U.S. During The Travel Ban – How To Find Out If You Qualify?

The Secretary of State has given the following categories of people an exemption from the travel ban in the interest of the nation. They are granted a National Interest Exception (NIE) and should have valid visas and not be prohibited from traveling to the U.S. for any other reason –

  • Any non-citizen who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Those who are seeking to provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure; Those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States; 
  • Those in public health and/or supporting the alleviation of Covid-19;
  • Journalists; 
  • International students with valid F1visas and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs; 
  • Dependent immigrants including those providing care for a U.S. citizen who can be a minor child, lawful permanent resident or other non-immigrant in lawful status close family member;
  • Fiancés on valid K1/K3 visas

Covid Travel Ban: Can you work from India if you are on H1-B Visa?

Here are the rules and some exceptions

With the exceptions of students who have an admit for the next academic year 2021-22, the NIE is valid for 12 months and multiple trips to the United States. Eligible international students may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies. They are automatically considered for an National Interest Exception (NIE) to travel.

How To Apply For National Interest Exception (NIE)

If you fall under the above categories and feel you may qualify for the NIE, you should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy and follow due process. You have to put in an application at the US Embassy New Delhi.

Their email is [email protected]

Level 4 Travel Advisory For India

What Does That Mean For Your Next Flight To India

The following details can be submitted to apply for an NIE – 

  • Last name
  • First name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Passport number
  • Stamped Visa Number & type 
  • Planned travel dates, preferably with itinerary and copy of flight tickets 
  • Purpose of travel – explain situation in detail including details about work, family separation, details of minor children who may be US citizens, etc. 
  • Contact information, both in the US as well as in home country including phone numbers, emails, etc. 

If approved, you will receive an email from the US Embassy with an NIE approval notice in your inbox. This will include dates of travel.


On Entering The U.S. After International Travel

If you are fully vaccinated after having received the required series of vaccine doses, you still have to follow the following protocol after entering the United States after international travel.

  • Self-isolate for 7 days as soon as you enter the U.S.
  • Get tested after 3-5 days after travel
  • Self-monitor and Quarantine if you test positive.
  • Contact a health official for treatment