Status of Visa Services and National Interest Exception Application Instructions

Updated:  April 12, 2021

Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR VISA APPLICANTS WHO DO NOT RESIDE IN THE KINGDOM OF DENMARK

Applicants from a country classified as “high risk” by the Danish authorities are not permitted entry to the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen unless you have been in Denmark 10 days or longer.  Sweden is currently considered a “high risk” country. 

The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen requires a 10-day self-quarantine period for those who have recently traveled to, or are coming directly from, any “banned,” “high risk,” or otherwise “not open” region or country.  This 10-day quarantine period applies regardless of Danish regulations that may allow entry into Denmark with a negative COVID test.  Applicants who have a negative COVID test are still required to be in Denmark for 10 days prior to their appointment date.  The following websites have up-to-date information on countries classified as “high risk” by the Danish authorities:

Travel Restrictions from Schengen Zone to the United States Remain in Effect:  On January 25, 2021 the President issued a presidential proclamation continuing travel restrictions for foreign nationals who have been present in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, and Iran.  The President also restricted entry into the United States of any foreign nationals who have been present in South Africa, effective January 30.  There is no definitive date for lifting these travel restrictions.  The proclamation does not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, spouses of U.S. citizens, minor children of U.S. citizens, diplomatic and official travelers, air and sea crew members, members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children, and certain other categories of travelers.

 Visa Appointment Backlog:  The Embassy’s consular section is operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 to comply with health safety measures in place by both the Department of State and Danish authorities. As a result, demand for visa services exceeds available resources and there is a backlog for visa services at U.S. Embassy Copenhagen. The Embassy cannot guarantee a particular visa appointment date. All prospective travelers, and in particular visa holders currently in the United States who may be planning a trip home to Denmark, should prioritize their efforts to schedule a visa appointment as far in advance as possible. Thank you for your patience as we work through the visa backlog in safe and orderly manner.

Current Status of Visa Services:  Visa services were suspended worldwide in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  On August 14 2020 the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen resumed limited visa services in a phased, safe, and orderly manner.  The status of visa services at U.S. Embassy Copenhagen is as follows:

  • F/M/J Student and Exchange visas:  Open.  Schedule your appointment on our website.
  • C1/D, I, O, P visas:  Temporarily suspended due to additional pandemic restrictions enacted by the Danish government.  Limited expedited appointment are available for applicants ordinarily resident in the Kingdom of Denmark only.  Even expedited appointments may have a four to six week wait.  Login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to request an expedited appointment.
  • E visas:  Open and working through a backlog.  Follow the step-by-step instructions on our website to apply for an E visa at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen.
  • H1B visas: Temporarily suspended due to additional pandemic restrictions enacted by the Danish government.  Limited expedited appointment are available for applicants ordinarily resident in the Kingdom of Denmark only.  Even expedited appointments may have a four to six week wait.  Login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to request an expedited appointment. Read the Department of State website for information about national interest exceptions for H visas prior to your interview.  The final NIE determination will be made at the time of your interview.
  • H2B visasSuspended due to COVID-19.  If you believe you qualify for an expedited appointment please login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to request an expedited appointment.
  • L visas: Temporarily suspended due to additional pandemic restrictions enacted by the Danish government.  Limited expedited appointment are available for applicants ordinarily resident in the Kingdom of Denmark only.  Even expedited appointments may have a four to six week wait.  Login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to request an expedited. Read the Department of State website for information about national interest exceptions for L visas prior to your interview.  The final NIE determination will be made at the time of your interview.
  • B1/B2 Tourist Visas:  Suspended due to COVID-19.  If you believe you qualify for an exception to Presidential Proclamation 10143 under section 2 of the scope of suspension and require a B1/B2 visa in order to travel to the United States please login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to request an expedited appointment..

Expedite Requests: The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services for humanitarian, life-and-death related travel.  If you believe you qualify for an expedited appointment please login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to submit your request.

Visa Application Fee:  We understand that many visa applicants have paid the visa application processing fee and are still waiting to schedule a visa appointment. We are working diligently to restore all routine visa operations as quickly and safely as possible.  In the meantime, rest assured that we will extend the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2022, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule a visa appointment as a result of the suspension of routine consular operations to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the paid fee.

National Interest Exceptions for Students/Academics, Journalists, and Business Travelers – Updated 3 March 2021:  On March 2, 2021, the Secretary of State rescinded the previous national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamation (PP) 10143 as related to the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland.  The previous national interest determination (announced in July 2020) covered certain technical experts and specialists, senior-level managers and executives, treaty-traders and investors, professional athletes, and their dependents.

The Secretary of State also made a new national interest determination covering certain travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure.  Travelers in these categories, as well as academics, students, and journalists for whom National Interest Exception (NIE) criteria has not changed, may qualify for NIEs to PP 10143 as related to the Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland.  No previously-issued visas or NIEs will be revoked due to the new policy.  Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States following the procedures below even as PP 10143 remains in effect.

Travelers who wish to visit the United States to offer vital support to critical infrastructure sectors, as well as academics, J-1 students, and journalists who have a valid visa in the appropriate class, an ESTA authorization, or who are seeking to apply for a visa, and believe they may qualify for a National Interest Exception should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling.  If a National Interest Exception is approved, they may travel on either a valid visa or ESTA authorization, as appropriate.

The Department of State also continues to grant NIEs for qualified travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security.  These travelers and any others who believe their travel to be in the United States national interest should also review the website of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for instruction on how to contact them.

F-1, F-2, M-1, and M-2 Students with Valid Visas:  Students traveling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas do not need to contact an embassy or consulate to seek an individual NIE to travel.  Students seeking to apply for new F-1 or M-1 visas in Copenhagen should schedule an appointment following the instructions on our website.  Those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.

NIE Application Process at U.S. Embassy Copenhagen

E-mail Process:  Travelers who already have valid nonimmigrant visas or ESTA and believe they qualify for a national interest exception (NIE) for humanitarian; academic/student/exchange travel; journalist travel; or to provide vital support for critical infrastructure of the United States must send the following information and all supporting documents in one e-mail to CopenhagenNIV@state.gov.  Due to a large volume of inquiries it may take up to ten business days to review your NIE request.  You will receive a formal response to your NIE request by e-mail.

Important:  If you are applying for an NIE on behalf of another traveler who is 18 years of age or older the traveler must be copied on all NIE correspondence due to privacy laws outlined under section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Answer the following questions and include with your initial email:

  1. Are you physically in Denmark? (Note:  You must physically be in Denmark to request an NIE.).
  2. Provide a copy of your approved ESTA notice or valid visa.
  3. Provide a copy of the biographic page of your passport.
  4. Which NIE category are you seeking:  Humanitarian;  Academic/Student/Exchange Visitor (with F, J, or M visa); Journalist (with I visa); other business providing vital support for the critical infrastructure of the United States.
  5. If your purpose of travel is to provide support for critical infrastructure in the United States, please provide the following?
    1. Which critical infrastructure category will you support?
    2. What is your role and the specific activities you intend to perform in the United States?
    3. Why do these activities require your physical presence in the United States?
    4. Why would alternatives such as video conferencing, teleworking, or actions by proxy fail to directly support the critical infrastructure of the United States?
  6. If you are traveling to complete installation/commissioning/repair/maintenance work as part of a contract of sale between your employer and a U.S. end client, please provide a copy of the contract of sale articulating that your proposed activities are included in the contract.
  7. Will any other family members be traveling with you to the United States?  If so, provide copies of the biographic pages of their valid passports and a copy of their valid ESTA or valid visa.
  8. Provide the anticipated travel dates to and from the United States and city/state where you will stay while in the United States.
  9. Have you or any family member who resides in your household experienced any COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days?

IMPORTANT:  Limitations of National Interest Exception:  If approved, the exception is valid only for 30 days from the date of approval and is valid for a single entry to the United States.  An individual who departs the United States and wishes to return must be re-assessed for a national interest exception.  As noted above, students with a valid F or M visa and a valid I-20 do not need to seek a national interest exception and may return to the United States without further administrative steps.  F, M, and J visa travelers are reminded that they must still meet all Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) requirements.  All individuals are reminded that their admission remains subject to a determination by Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry and that they may be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

For Travelers in the United States:  For questions about adjusting status or extending the authorized period of stay in the United States, please contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office (USCIS).  USCIS has full jurisdiction over immigration matters for foreign citizens physically in the United States.

Renewal of Visa:
If you are applying for a visa in the same visa class, and your prior visa expired less than 48 months ago, you may be eligible to use our interview waiver procedures.  See our website to determine if you qualify for interview waiver; if so, the entire application process is done by mail and is the fastest way to renew your visa: https://www.ustraveldocs.com/dk/dk-niv-visarenew.asp

Before scheduling an appointment for your visa interview, please read carefully:
Travelers Recently Arrived from the United States or Other Countries Classified as “Banned” by Danish Authorities:

The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen is following the Danish government advice for travelers to Denmark.  Danish government authorities recommend any travelers arriving in Denmark from a country classified as “banned” – which includes the United States – to self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Denmark.  To mitigate the health risk to embassy visitors and staff, travelers from the United States or any other country classified as banned by the Danish authorities will be permitted to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen only if it has been 10 days or longer since your arrival to Denmark.   If you have been in Denmark less than 10 days and have a true life-or-death emergency which requires an in-person appointment contact us at CopenhagenNIV@state.gov to discuss.