Travel to the US related to COVID-19

Last updated on May 3, 2021

May 3, 2021 

The US government has announced that effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on May 4, 2021, entry to the US is suspended for non-immigrants who have been physically present in India during the 14-day period preceding their entry into the US. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including students and some others. We know this is an incredibly difficult time many in the Emory community and their loved ones in light of the COVID-19 situation in India. Here are some helpful resources:

The following groups may qualify for the National Interest Exception (NIE) to this geographic COVID Presidential Proclamation: 

  • Students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021, or later.  
    • Students who already have valid F-1 visas and intend to begin or continue an academic program commencing August 1, 2021, or later do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel to the USISSS is seeking a clarification and/or flexibility for students whose academic program starts earlier than August 1. We will update this page as more details become available.  
    • Students may enter the United States no earlier than 30 days before the start of their academic studies.  
    • Students seeking to apply for new F-1 visas should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate. If otherwise eligible, an F-1 visa applicant will automatically be considered for an NIE. 
  • Travelers whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designee. 
  • For a full list of exceptions and details, visit here 
  • Please check the website of the nearest US embassy or consulate for location-specific NIE guidance. 

Some international students and scholars at Emory have received an NIE for various reasons. Please contact your ISSS advisor for individual advising 

If you are a student in the US and interested in on-campus summer housing options, consider the following options: 

  • If you need to stay in your on-campus housing longer to finish your second COVID-19 vaccine dose, contact Emory Housing. 
  • If you are participating in any of Emory-sponsored programs in summer, please visit the Summer Housing website
  • If you are not participating in an Emory-sponsored program in summer but would like to be considered for on-campus housing, please submit the “Direct Service Assistance” form.

Helpful links:


April 27, 2021

The US government announced the expansion of the special National Interest Exception (NIE) to include students from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa – similar to the NIE availability already in effect for students from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland. For additional details, click here

If you already have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport, you are automatically considered as having been granted an NIE.

If you need a new F-1 visa, please check with the nearest US embassy or consulate. If you are eligible for an F-1 visa, you will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel to the US.

If you are a J-1 student, the process works differently. Please email the nearest US embassy or consulate for their consulate specific NIE request process. 


March 11, 2021

The US government has temporarily expanded the ability of consular/visa officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification (click here). This policy is in effect until December 31, 2021.

Previously, only those applicants whose nonimmigrant visa expired within 24 months were eligible for an interview waiver. The US government has temporarily extended the expiration period to 48 months.

This change will allow visa officers to continue processing certain nonimmigrant visa applications while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consular section, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other applicants and consular staff.

Review the website of the nearest US embassy or consulate for detailed information on what services are currently available as well as eligibility information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.


March 4, 2021

The US government has updated its policy on National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for certain travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

  • F-1 students
    • F-1 students with valid visas still do not need to contact a US Consulate for NIE to travel to the US.
    • F-1 students applying for a new F-1 visa will continue to be automatically be considered for an NIE.
  • Academics, J-1 students, and journalists
  • Travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure
  • Humanitarian travel or for travel related to a public health response or to national security

Previously issued visas or NIEs will not be revoked due to the new policy. Travelers with an approved NIE should make sure that they enter the US within the NIE validity period if applicable.

For additional details, click here.


January 26, 2021

Yesterday, President Biden signed a proclamation continuing the COVID-19-related entry restrictions on travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Brazil

The proclamation has added travelers from South Africa to the 14-day entry restriction, effective January 30, 2021.

For various exceptions, please review our February 1 announcement below. 

Keep in mind that the National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for travelers from the Schengen Area, the UK, Ireland (detailed in our July 16, 2020 announcement) remain in effect. 

It is important to remember that if you are entering the US from one of the countries subject to COVID-19 related entry restrictions (listed above), they will continue to apply even if you obtain a negative COVID test.


January 26, 2021

On January 21, President Biden issued the Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. The Executive Order requires travelers to wear a mask in airports and while flying as well as when using public transportation.

Effective January 26, travelers are also required to produce proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test prior to entry and to comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.

The US Department of State clarifies that all airline passengers over the age of 2, including US citizens, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding.


January 19, 2021

Last night, the Trump Administration issued a proclamation terminating COVID-19-related entry restrictions for travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Brazil, effective at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on January 26, 2021.

Since then, there was an unofficial statement from the incoming White House Press Secretary stating that the incoming Biden Administration did not have a plan to lift these restrictions.

What can you do at this point if you are currently in these areas?

  • If you have not obtained a US entry visa, check for visa appointment availability at the nearest US consulate as visa operations are projected to increase.
  • If you have not, look into COVID testing facilities and turnaround times. As we previously informed you, starting January 26, all air passengers including US citizens arriving to the US from a foreign country must be tested no more than three (3) days before their flight departs and provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. There is some speculation that the incoming Biden Administration may lift entry restrictions once more robust testing requirements are in place.
  • If you have not already purchased the tickets, wait for the new Administration to make an official policy statement in this regard before making flight reservations.

We understand that this is a confusing situation due to the lack of coordination between the outgoing Administration and the incoming Administration. Please contact your ISSS advisor if you have any questions or need our support. We will continue to update this page with any new announcements or updates.


Update - January 15, 2021 

Negative COVID Test Requirement to Enter the US Effective January 26, 2021

On January 12, 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new travel requirement mandating all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than three days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. This order will go into effect on January 26, 2021. If you will arrive in the US before January 26, you are not required by the CDC to have a negative test. Check with your airline regarding their requirements.  

Important: If you are entering the US from one of the countries subject to COVID-19 related entry restrictions (listed below), they will continue to apply even if you obtain a negative COVID test. 

Additional information is available on the CDC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page).  


 July 16, 2020

National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland

US Department of State announced today that certain academics, students, and others may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland). This means that qualified student travelers who are applying for or have valid visas may travel directly to the US even if those proclamations remain in effect.

  • F-1 students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. If you do not have a visa stamp, apply for an F-1 visa as soon as possible.
  • J-1 students from those areas may contact the nearest US embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request even if you already have valid a J-1 visa stamp. If you do not have a visa stamp, apply for a J-1 visa as soon as possible.
  • Granting national interest exceptions for this travel to the US from the Schengen area, the UK, and Ireland, will assist with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

July 13, 2020

Update for the Schengen Area 

For the original announcement, please read our message from March 12 below.

Starting July 13, some consulates have begun posting "national interest" exception criteria for F-1/J-1 international students and J-1 scholars (click here for sample guidance). 

The protocol at each US embassy or consulate varies, so check your nearest US consulate's website. You may also look up current visa wait times for all embassies and consulates.  


May 26, 2020

REVISED -- The US government has announced that effective 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on May 26, 2020, foreign nationals who were physically present in Brazil within 14 days of seeking admission/entry into the US will be denied entry. This does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on May 26, 2020. For a list of exceptions, please review our February 1 announcement below. 


April 23, 2020

Read our summary, analysis, and impact of the executive proclamation on immigration that was issued by the White House on April 22, 2020.


Update - April 22, 2021

4/22/2021 Update: These agreements have been extended again through May 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

3/18/2021 Update: These agreements have been extended again through April 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

2/19/2021 Update: These agreements have been extended again through March 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

1/15/2021 Update: These agreements have been extended again through February 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

12/21/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through January 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

11/23/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through December 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

10/21/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through November 21. The restrictions do not affect air travel.

9/18/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through October 21.

8/19/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through September 21.

7/21/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through August 20.

6/17/2020 Update: These agreements have been extended again through July 21.

5/19/2020 Update: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that by mutual agreement, Canada, Mexico, and the US have decided to extend restrictions barring nonessential travel across their respective shared borders until June 21.

4/20/2020 Update: Canada, Mexico, and the US have decided to extend restrictions barring nonessential travel across their respective shared borders for another 30 days amid the coronavirus pandemic.

March 20, 2020 

By mutual agreement, to fight COVID-19, Canada and the US have agreed to temporarily limit non-essential travel between the two countries at land ports of entry and  ferry terminals along the US-Canada border. This change is temporary, starting 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on March 20 until 11:59 pm EST on April 20, 2020. At this time, this change does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the US and Canada, but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between two countries.

Mexico and the US have also agreed to the same temporary restrictions on non-essential travel, effective March 21 and will remain in effect for at least 30 days. 

"Non-essential travel" is defined by the US Department of Homeland Security as tourism or recreational in nature. Traveling to attend educational institutions and people traveling to work in the US are considered essential and permissible even for foreign nationals. So, it should not affect international students and scholars.  


March 14, 2020

The US government has announced additional, temporary travel restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak (Presidential Proclamation 9996).

Effective 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 16, 2020, foreign nationals who were physically present in the United Kingdom or Ireland within 14 days of seeking admission/entry into the US will be denied entry. For exceptions, please review our February 1 announcement below. 

This change does not apply to people aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 16, 2020.

We are in the process of reaching out to international students and scholars who have reported a travel plan to the affected countries at this time. If you know of an Emory international student or scholar who might be currently in the affected area, please let us know so that we can extend our support. 


March 12, 2020

The US government has announced additional, temporary travel restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak (Presidential Proclamation 9993)

Effective 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020, foreign nationals who were physically present within the Schengen Area within 14 days of seeking admission/entry into the US will be denied entry. For exceptions, please review our February 1 announcement below. 

This change does not apply to people aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020.

The affected countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. It does not include the United Kingdom.

We are in the process of reaching out to international students and scholars who have reported a travel plan to the affected countries at this time. If you know of an Emory international student or scholar who might be currently in the affected area, please let us know so that we can extend our support. 


February 29, 2020

The US government has announced additional, temporary travel restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Effective 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020, foreign nationals who visited Iran within 14 days of seeking admission/entry into the US will be denied entry. For exceptions, please review our February 1 announcement below. 

This change does not apply to people aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the US that departed prior to 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on March 2, 2020.

No Emory international student or scholar has reported a travel plan to Iran at this time. However, if you know of an Emory international student or scholar who might be currently in Iran, please let us know so that we can extend our support. 


February 1, 2020

The US Government has declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency. As a result, effective February 2 at 5:00 p.m., temporary travel restrictions will be imposed to US citizens as well as foreign nationals who have traveled to China.  

Foreign nationals who visited China within 14 days of seeking admission/entry into the United States will be denied entry. Airlines have been informing their passengers that people will not be allowed to board US-bound flights if they do not meet the requirements for entry into the US.

However, the following groups of foreign nationals are exempt from the new entry requirements:

  • US lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
  • The spouse of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • The parent or legal guardian of a US citizen or permanent resident, if the US citizen or permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • The sibling of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • The child, foster child, or ward of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the relevant visa classifications;
  • A foreign national traveling at the invitation of the US government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus;
  • Nonimmigrant crewmembers;
  • Foreign nationals seeking entry or transiting the US under an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4 or NATO-6 visa;
  • A foreign national whose entry would not pose a significant risk of transmitting the virus, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control; and
  • A foreign national whose entry would further important US law enforcement interests or would be in the US national interest. 

ISSS is in the process of identifying Emory international students and scholars who would be subject to new entry restrictions in order to offer advising and support or to connect you with university resources during this time. If you have concerns, please refer to our emergency protocol so that we can assist you both during and after normal business hours.