Presidential Proclamation – Frequently Asked Questions

Presidential Proclamation – Frequently Asked Questions

(updated October 18, 2021)

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. 

On November 8, a new travel policy will go into effect requiring foreign nationals traveling to the United States to demonstrate proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.  The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website explains that, for purposes of entry into the United States, the accepted vaccines will include Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing vaccines.  (Please see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html.)  The CDC and other U.S. agencies are working to develop guidance to implement this new travel policy, and those details — for the airlines, for airline passengers, and for people coming to the land border — will be available in advance of November 8.  Information will be provided on www.travel.state.gov and our website as it becomes available.  Until that time, the following guidance remains accurate:

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

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

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: C-1, D, C1/D, or otherwise traveling as air or sea crew (for example: B-1 lightering, OCS or wind farm activity, and private air/sea crew) 
  • Student visas: F (if holding a valid Form I-20) or M (if holding a valid Form I-20) 
  • Fiancé visas: K

Before boarding the flight, 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 documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.  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. 

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 multiple entries to the United States within 12 months for the approved purpose of travel.  The following categories of non-immigrant visa holders may qualify for an NIE under PP10143: 

  • Visa holders providing vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure sectors. 
  • 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 emergency medical treatment (including for family members).
  • B2 (or B1/B2) visa holders traveling to provide medically necessary emergency 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. (NOTE: aside from medically documented emergencies, travel to provide childcare is generally not grounds for an NIE). 
  • Limited other specialized categories as 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. 

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 or the requirement to have an NIE. 

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

U.S. Embassy Warsaw and Consulate General Krakow cannot process NIE requests for P visa holders or applicants.  Please have your league or sponsor contact the Department of Homeland Security (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 you qualify for an NIE, you should write to KrakowNIE@state.gov (if your passport was issued in Dolnośląskie, Opolskie, Śląskie, Małopolskie, Podkarpackie, or Świętokrzyskie or WarsawNIE@state.gov (if your passport was issued in any other province of Poland or abroad) 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 (in .jpeg or .pdf format) 
  • Scan of your current U.S. visa or ESTA confirmation (in .jpeg or .pdf format) 
  • Description of the purpose of your proposed trip to the United States
  • Travel dates
  • Any documentation supporting your request, e.g., medical information from a doctor or hospital, information regarding your proposed business visit, the nature of your humanitarian emergency, etc.  (This does not include documentation related to COVID-19, which will only be required at the time of travel.) 

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. How long does it take to get an NIE?

The expected wait time to receive a response from WarsawNIE@state.gov and KrakowNIE@state.gov is currently up to fifteen days.  Follow-up questions sent before fifteen days have passed will not be answered.  You may also be asked for follow-up documents, which can lengthen the time it takes to resolve your NIE inquiry past fifteen days.  You should plan travel well in advance, and should not purchase tickets for travel without a confirmed NIE.  If you have an emergency, we will attempt to respond more quickly.

7. 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. 

8. 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. 

Before boarding the flight 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 documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.  Please see the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s FAQs page for more details. 

9. 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. 

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. 

10. 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. 

11. I’m not from Poland and my case is still pending with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw or the U.S. Consulate in Krakow. 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. 

12. 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 or Legal Permanent Resident you are not subject to the Presidential Proclamation travel restrictions, and do not need an NIE.  (The same applies to any noncitizen who is the child (unmarried and under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident.)  However, you do need a visa or ESTA, and you must travel with proof of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship or Legal Permanent Resident status 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. 

For a full list of those exempt from the Proclamation, visit P.P.10143.