Because of the recent visa updates to the travel regulations in the USA, please ensure to obtain an NIE (National Interest Exception) before you travel to avoid any issues when traveling. SA Chamber USA advises you to please check with the USA consulate before traveling. On 8 April 2021 and 13 May 2021 the US Government updated the Presidential Proclamations that have an impact type F visas.
These updates affect the applicants from South Africa, also China, Iran, Brazil, UK, and the EU. So, the USA will only consider persons who are “vital support for critical infrastructure will be considered. These persons include journalists, students, and certain academics. Those who are above all, covered by exchange visitor programs may now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE).
Students and academics subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, or South Africa, may qualify for an NIE only if their academic program begins August 1, 2021.
Firstly, F-1 visa holders who will begin or continue their studies after August 1, 2021. They will automatically be granted an NIE. So, if you are not already in possession of a visa, you need to apply at the nearest SA Consulate and wait your turn. The Consulate will automatically consider you for an NIE in the processing of the application.
Secondly, if you hold an ESTA visa, please contact a US Consulate to determine if you are entitled to receive an NIE. The NIE allows you to travel directly from South Africa to the US. Thus, you do not have to quarantine for 15 days in a third country.
And thirdly, F-type visa holders will receive the NIE if their classes start after August 1, 2021.