National Interest Exception (NIE) Guidelines

To protect the public health, there are four presidential proclamations that suspend entry into the United States of all noncitizens who were physically present in any of 33 countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. They are Presidential Proclamation 9984 (China); Presidential Proclamation 9992 (Iran); Presidential Proclamation 10143 (Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and South Africa); and Presidential Proclamation 10199 (India). Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States, even as PPs 9984, 9992, 10143 and 10199 remain in effect.

The U.S. government announced on September 20, 2021, that it would lift these travel restrictions beginning in early November. Travelers must show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival in the U.S. While this is after the date for our meeting, we are hopeful that more exceptions may be granted when the meeting is so close to the new policy taking effect.

Travelers who have a valid visa in the appropriate class or who have a valid ESTA authorization for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and seek to travel for purposes consistent with ESTA authorization, should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling, if they believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception. A National Interest Exception is an application submitted to the U.S. Consulate, requesting an exception from one of the current Presidential Proclamations limiting travel to the United States. If a NIE is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate. Each approved NIE is valid for 12 months and multiple trips to the United States. Please contact ASTRO's meetings team to request ASTRO’s Letter in Support of National Interest Exemption

Travelers who believe their travel is within one of the below categories should consult the website of the nearest embassy or consulate for instructions on applying for an NIE.

  • Journalists (I visas);
  • Travelers providing executive direction or vital support for critical infrastructure sectors, or directly linked supply chains, as outlined at https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors;
  • Travelers providing vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States
  • Those whose purpose of travel falls within one of these categories:
    • Lifesaving medical treatment for the principal applicant and accompanying close family members
    • Public health for those travelling to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to continue ongoing research in an area with substantial public health benefit (e.g., cancer or communicable disease research)

Affected Countries

Each country below is linked to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or consulate.

Applicants should verify the exact information required by each U.S. Embassy or consulate to support the NIE application. Each country may have unique requirements to apply. At a minimum, travelers should expect to provide the following information:

  • A scanned copy of each traveler’s visa or ESTA authorization
  • A scanned copy of each traveler’s passport photo page
  • Purpose of travel and any supporting documents that clearly show how you qualify for an NIE
  • A copy of your flight itinerary or proposed travel dates


Many embassies and consulates in the affected countries are experiencing backlogs in processing NIEs and you are encouraged to submit your applications as soon as possible. For the most up-to-date information, visit the U.S. State Department website.

To inquire about a visa letter of invitation, please contact the ASTRO Registration Center.


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