Presidential Proclamation – Frequently Asked Questions

Presidential Proclamation – Frequently Asked Questions

(updated April 9, 2021)

1. What non-immigrant visa categories are impacted by the January 25, 2021 Presidential Proclamation (P.P. 10143)?

Presidential Proclamation 10143 bans entry to the United States of persons present in the Schengen Area (including Poland), the UK, Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa.

Note: The June 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation, P.P. 10052, expired on March 31, 2021. This proclamation imposed certain restrictions on visas in order to protect the U.S. labor market. The specific requirements for eligibility for a National Interest Exception (NIE) to P.P. 10052 are no longer applicable. All travelers requesting an NIE in Poland are now solely subject to P.P. 10143 and its accompanying NIE-eligible categories.

For those holding valid U.S. non-immigrant visas, some may travel without restrictions, while others may travel only by first seeking approval from the U.S. Embassy. If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa or ESTA and wish to travel from Poland to the United States, please carefully read the information below to determine what restrictions may apply to you.

For those who wish to apply for a U.S. visa, the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and Consulate General in Krakow are approving only a small number of certain nonimmigrant visas at this time, as described below.

THE GUIDANCE ON THIS PAGE REGARDING WHO MAY TRAVEL TO THE U.S. OR APPLY FOR A U.S. VISA IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. PLEASE CHECK BACK REGULARLY FOR UPDATES.

2. I have a valid non-immigrant visa. Can I travel to the United States?

You may travel to the United States without following any additional visa procedures if you hold a valid visa in any of the following categories:

  • Official visas: A, G, NATO
  • Air/sea crew visas: C1/D, B1 (only if annotated “OCS” for seaman working on the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States, or if traveling for work at off-shore locations such as windfarms)
  • Student visas: F (if holding a valid Form I-20) or M (if holding a valid Form I-20).

As of January 26, 2021, all air passengers traveling to the United States must present to the airline documentation of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous three days or present documentation of having recovered from COVID-19, before boarding the flight. Please see the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s FAQs page for more details.

If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa of another category not listed above, you must follow additional procedures in order to be allowed to travel to the United States, as described below.

Documentation of a negative COVID-19 test, of having recovered from COVID-19, or of having received a COVID-19 vaccine do NOT exempt you from the Presidential Proclamations.

3. I have a valid visa in a category not listed above. Can I travel to the United States from Poland?

If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa in a category not listed above, you may travel only if the U.S. Embassy approves a national interest exception (NIE) for your trip. If approved, the NIE will allow you only one entry to the United States within 30 days of the date of approval by the Embassy. In general, these NIEs are provided to certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical U.S. infrastructure, academics, and persons traveling for specific, limited humanitarian reasons. The following categories of non-immigrant visa holders may qualify for an NIE under PP10143:

  • Visa holders seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure.
  • I visa holders traveling in their capacity as journalists.
  • J visa holders (with valid Form DS-2019) who are professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists.
  • B2 (or B1/B2) visa holders traveling for lifesaving emergency medical treatment (including for family members).
  • B2 (or B1/B2) visa holders traveling to provide care for a close family member who is a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or other nonimmigrant-in-lawful-status alien, to include alleviating the burden of care from a medical or other institution.
  • H-1B visa holders (and their dependents) who are public health or health care professionals, medical researchers, or are engaged with projects essential to a U.S. government agency.
  • L visa holders (and their dependents) who are public health or healthcare professionals or are medical researchers.

For the latest information regarding NIEs, please go to the Department of State’s U.S. Visas News. NIEs under PP10143 are described here.

If you meet one of the foregoing categories, you may seek an NIE by following the procedures in item 5 below. Except for those categories in item 2 above, any non-immigrant visa holder who tries to travel to the United States without obtaining an NIE will not be permitted to board a U.S.-bound flight.

4. I am a professional athlete with a P visa. How do I request an NIE?

U.S. Embassy Warsaw and Consulate General Krakow are no longer able to process NIE requests for P visa holders (or applicants). Please have your league or sponsor contact DHS for more information.

5. I have a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa or ESTA and believe that I may qualify for a national interest exception (NIE). How do I apply?

If you hold a valid non-immigrant visa or ESTA and believe that you qualify for an NIE, you should write to WarsawNIE@state.gov and provide the following information for each traveler:

  • Full name (as it appears in your passport)
  • Date of birth
  • Scan of your passport bio page
  • Scan of your current U.S. visa or ESTA confirmation
  • Description of the purpose of your proposed trip to the United States
  • Travel dates
  • Any documentation supporting your request, e.g., information regarding your proposed business visit, the nature of your humanitarian reasons, etc. This does not include documentation related to COVID-19, which will only be required at the time of travel.

If the Embassy approves your NIE request, the NIE allows you to take only one trip to the United States, and you must travel within 30 days of the date of the approval. If you wish to travel again in the future, you will need to seek another NIE approval.

If you attempt to travel on ESTA without obtaining an NIE in advance, you will not be permitted to board a U.S. bound flight and your ESTA will be cancelled.

6. Our company needs to send employees to the U.S. for business. May we request an NIE on their behalf?

A company may submit an NIE request for an employee, provided that the employee is copied on the email. This is due to privacy regulations. Please follow the instructions provided in item 5 above. Please note that any decision on an NIE may only be conveyed to the employee.

7. I was granted an NIE. What do I need to do at the airport?

Information on your NIE will be entered into applicable systems to authorize US travel. Arrive at the airport early. If the airline has any questions on your travel eligibility, it should contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG).

If traveling on ESTA, you may contact the CBP Travel Coordination Center for formal and informal inquiries related to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at help@cbp.dhs.gov or at U.S. phone number 1-877-227-5511.

As of January 26, 2021, all air passengers traveling to the United States must present to the airline documentation of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous three days or present documentation of having recovered from COVID-19, before boarding the flight. Please see the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s FAQs page for more details.

8. I wish to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Are appointments available?

A limited number of appointments for specific categories of non-immigrant visas are available at U.S. Embassy Warsaw and Consulate General Krakow. The consular officer will determine whether you are eligible to travel under the current Presidential Proclamations at the time of the interview. Thus, for example, qualified students (categories F and M) or air/sea crew (category C1/D or certain B1 visas) may be processed as normal. Other categories may also be processed, but will only be issued if the consular officer determines that an NIE applies as described above (e.g., limited business travelers, academics, and persons traveling for humanitarian reasons). If you do not believe that you will qualify for a visa due to the restrictions in the Presidential Proclamations, you may wish to postpone your appointment to a later date.

For travelers seeking an appointment for a B1/B2 visa: if you have an urgent need to travel on a B1/B2 visa, and believe you are eligible for an NIE (see Item 3 above for more information), you may request an expedited appointment. To request an expedited appointment, please make an appointment in the system for any open time. You will then have the option to request an expedited appointment. A consular officer will review your request, and someone will contact you with more information if it is approved.

9. Can I get a refund of my application fee or ESTA fee?

Visa application fees and ESTA application fees are not refundable. Under current regulations you may reschedule your visa appointment at U.S. Embassy Warsaw and U.S. Consulate General Krakow at no additional charge through September 30, 2022. Approved ESTAs remain valid for up to two years.

10. I’m not from Poland and my case is still pending with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. Please transfer my profile back to my country. I wish to apply there.

You may be able to use your existing account profile in your home country. However, the fee you paid in Poland cannot be transferred to pay for a case processed outside of Poland. If you wish to apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside Poland, you will need to make a new fee payment and fill out another application form according to the application procedures at that location.

11. My spouse is a U.S. citizen (or a Legal Permanent Resident), but I am not. What do I need in order to travel?

As the spouse of a U.S. citizen, you are not subject to the Presidential Proclamation travel restrictions, and do not need a national interest exception (NIE). However, you do need a visa or ESTA, and you must travel with proof of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship and an original marriage certificate to prove your relationship.

If you are traveling on an ESTA, please allow extra time at the airport to coordinate with the airline to allow you to board. They may need to contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection to facilitate your travel on an ESTA.

These instructions also apply to other family members not subject to the Proclamation. For a full list, please see P.P.10143.