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Everything you need to know about National Interest Exception (NIE) Visas

As the world begins to open up again, and business travel is starting to look like a possibility, many organisations are understandably anxious to get back to it. And one destination sticks out in the minds of many travellers: the USA.  Whilst travel to the US from the UK is currently restricted, there are certain ways in which travellers could be admitted into the country. In this blog, our experts will run through one of these options – National Interest Exception Visas – and help you understand if you could be eligible for an exemption. Let’s take a look!

What is a National Interest Exception Visa?

Essentially, a NIE visa – or specifically a NIE visa for the USA – is a unique document that’s used to aid an urgent or high priority travel visa application.  An NIE visa is used in very specific cases where entry to the USA is time critical. For example, if you were a specialised worker, such as a surgeon or a politician, you could easily apply for an NIE visa in order to gain faster entry into the US. The NIE grants authorisation to travel to the USA under an exemption to any current Travel Ban imposed by the US government. Traveler requirements to enter the USA need to be critical and in the US National interest. This can include vital support to critical infrastructure, significant economic activity or security – such as investors, academics/researchers, or COVID-19 doctors etc.  For a specific example in the business community, a Senior Level Manager and their department may be granted an NIE visa for travel if they were required to provide strategic direction necessary for the success of a US company or venture. Once an application is made, it is up to the US Consulate to determine whether the visa should be validated – which is determined on a case by case basis and can take up to six weeks to process.

What is an NIE visa used for?

As mentioned, the NIE visa is simply a special condition, which supports urgent or high priority travel visa applications into the United States. Once approved, NIEs are valid for up to 12 months and can be used for multiple entries.  

How to apply for an NIE Visa

Normally, you can apply for an NIE visa through the US consulate or online. However, this may not necessarily lead to the right result and end up wasting your organisation's time and money. By using a trusted Travel Management Company, such as ACE Travel, you’ll be able to complete a Travel Pre-Assessment, which will give you a better understanding of whether the trip is likely to pass the strict criteria for an NIE Visa. Trained consultants will also be able to add value to your trip by making travel and accommodation more cost-efficient, as well as providing detailed advice on travel protocols and restrictions.

How long does an application take?

If you choose to use an expert TMC to help with your application, it will take no more than 3 days to complete the initial Travel Pre-Assessment checks. At ACE Travel, this is cross referenced by our partners in the USA, who will be able to provide a better indication of your NIE Visa approval chances. Once your NIE Visa is submitted, it can take up to six weeks to be approved by the US Consulate.

How much does an NIE Visa cost?

As we’ve already stated, once your NIE visa application is approved, it allows for entry into the USA for up to 12 months – and this is reflected in the price! Generally, the cost is in the region of £2,850. However, it’s important to note that costs and application times will vary per application.


For more information on National Interest Exception (NIE) Visas, or our other business travel services, speak with a member of our team.

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Sep 10 2021
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