Status of Visa Services and National Interest Exception Application Instructions

Updated: July 7, 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

The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen is not currently accepting visa applications from individuals who do not normally reside in the Kingdom of Denmark.  Please contact the Embassy or Consulate in the country in which you reside to schedule a visa appointment. 

 

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 COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in profound reductions in the Department of State’s visa processing capacity.  Additionally, a range of Presidential Proclamations restricting travel in response to the pandemic have resulted in further constraints on visa issuances worldwide.  Throughout the pandemic, U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe have prioritized services to U.S. citizens overseas.  As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen has a significant backlog for in-person visa appointment requests for all visa categories.

Our team is committed to facilitating legitimate travel to the United States and we are putting as many resources as possible towards meeting the nonimmigrant visa demand from applicants resident in the Kingdom of Denmark.  In order to work through the current visa appointment backlog in an equitable manner, the Embassy will take appointments in the order in which they are received.

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.  Expedited processing will be considered for humanitarian, life or death related travel reasons ONLY.  Refer to the section below for more on expedite requests.

The U.S. Embassy recognizes the hardship and distress resulting from the visa backlog, and we regret the negative impact to travelers in the Kingdom of Denmark.  We value the importance of legitimate travelers to the United States and remain committed to working through the backlog in a safe, orderly, and equitable manner.  Thank you for your patience as we work through the visa backlog in safe, equitable, 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.

Summer 2021 Appointment Availability:  The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen is currently offering as many visa appointments as resources allow and is committed to working through the significant visa appointment backlog in place as a result of COVID-19.  The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen has limited appointment availability left in calendar year 2021.  Depending on your visa category, the next available visa appointment may be in November 2021 or later.  In addition, the Embassy will be closed for all visa services except for diplomatic/official and those traveling for life-or-death emergency reasons between July 19 and August 20 and again from August 30 to September 10.

 

If you have a life or death emergency reason for travel to the United States and require a visa to travel to the United States, please request an expedited appointment via our scheduling website.  All other expedite requests will be denied, including for F, M, or J students with a start date that takes place prior to your scheduled visa appointment.

 

The Embassy will take appointments in the order in which they are received to work through the backlog in an equitable manner.  If you are an F, M, or J applicant, you may need to work with your institution or organization to request a later start date or postpone your program.

 

The status of visa services at U.S. Embassy Copenhagen is as follows:

  • F/M/J Student and Exchange visas:  Open and working through a backlog. Schedule your appointment on our website. Expedite requests for F, M, and J travelers will be denied, including those with a start date that takes place prior to your scheduled visa appointment.  If you are an F, M, or J applicant, work with your institution or organization now to make decisions about your program if you are unable to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen prior to your anticipated start date.
  • C1/D, I, O, P visas:  Open and working through a backlog.  Anticipate a four to five month wait for an appointment.  Schedule your appointment on our website.  Airline crew with urgent travel to support flights to/from the United States may login to your profile on www.ustraveldocs.com to request an expedited appointment.
  • E visas:  Open and working through a backlogAnticipate a four to five month wait for an appointment.  Follow the step-by-step instructions on our website to apply for an E visa at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen.
  • H1B visas: Open and working through a backlog.  Anticipate a five to six month wait for an appointment.  Schedule your appointment on our website.  Read the paragraph below for information about national interest exceptions (NIEs) to Presidential Proclamation 10143 temporarily suspending travel between the Schengen Area and the United States prior to your interview.  The final NIE determination will be made at the time of your interview.
  • H2B visas:  Suspended due to COVID-19.
  • L visas: Open and working through a backlog.  Anticipate a five to six month wait for an appointment.  Schedule your appointment on our website.  Read the paragraph below for information about national interest exceptions (NIEs) to Presidential Proclamation 10143 temporarily suspending travel between the Schengen Area and the United States 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 6 July 2021:  Effective July 5, all National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) to Presidential Proclamation 10143 are valid for 12 months and multiple entries.  This new and updated validity period also applies retroactively; all NIEs already approved are automatically valid for 12 months and multiple entries beginning from the date you were notified of your NIE approval.  You do not need to contact the U.S. Embassy if your NIE was issued less than 12 months ago.

On May 28, 2021, the Secretary of State updated the scope of national interest categories available to certain business travelers subject to Presidential Proclamation (PP) 10143, which currently restricts travel to the United States by foreign citizens who have been physically present in the Schengen Zone in the 14 days preceding their request for admission to the U.S. in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The Secretary of State determined that travelers who will provide executive direction in connection with vital support of critical infrastructure sectors in the United States may qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE.)  Travelers in these categories, as well technical experts/specialists going to install/repair machinery in connection with vital support of critical infrastructure sectors in the United States, academics, students, and journalists for whom National Interest Exception (NIE) criteria has not changed may continue to qualify for NIEs to Presidential Proclamation 10143 as related to the Schengen Area.

The Secretary of State no longer has the authority to approve NIE’s for professional athletes.  Travelers in this category should contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about NIE procedures for professional athletes.

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.

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NIE Application Process at U.S. Embassy Copenhagen

E-mail Process:  If you already have a valid nonimmigrant visa or ESTA and believe you 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, you must send the following information and all supporting documents in one e-mail to CopenhagenNIV@state.gov.  Due to the large volume of inquiries, it may take up to 21 business days to review your NIE request.  You will receive a formal response to your NIE request by e-mail.

 Update as of July 6:  All NIEs are now valid for 12 months and multiple entries.  This new and updated validity period also applies retroactively; all previously approved NIEs are automatically valid for 12 months and multiple entries beginning from the date you were notified of your NIE approval.  You do not need to contact the U.S. Embassy if your NIE was issued less than 12 months ago. 

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.

Include answers to the following questions in your email request for an NIE:

  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.

IMPORTANT — Validity of National Interest Exceptions (NIEs):  If approved, NIEs are now valid for 12 months and multiple entries to the United States.  If it has been 12 months or longer since your last NIE was approved, you must reapply for a national interest exception (see NIE application instructions above).

As noted above, students with a valid F or M visa and a valid I-20 do not need to seek an NIE 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.

Information for Foreign Spouses of U.S. Citizens and Foreign Parents of U.S. Citizen Minors:

Presidential Proclamation 10143, which currently restricts Schengen Area travelers from entering the United States, does not apply to certain travelers, including foreign spouses and foreign parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. 

 Individuals traveling under these exceptions to the Proclamation must bring the following with them at the time of travel:

  1. Proof of your relationship to the U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (e.g. marriage certificate or child’s birth certificate)
  2. An English translation of the marriage or birth certificate if the document is not already in English.  The airline will NOT be able to board you if this document is not in English.  The U.S. Embassy does not provide translation services.  A list of licensed translators in Denmark can be found here:  https://www.dtfb.dk/?mode=c_page&pageID=1574&parent_page_ID=0
  3. A copy of proof of the U.S. citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence of the spouse/child.  For example, a copy of the biographic page of the valid U.S. passport of the U.S. citizen or a copy of the Lawful Permanent Resident’s I-551 card.
  4. In order to mitigate any confusion with the airlines at the time of travel, we strongly recommend that you bring with you a printed copy of the Proclamation and highlight the area in Section 2(a) that indicates the relevant exception under which you intend to travel: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/25/proclamation-on-the-suspension-of-entry-as-immigrants-and-non-immigrants-of-certain-additional-persons-who-pose-a-risk-of-transmitting-coronavirus-disease/

A full list of exceptions can be found here.

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

Visa Applicants Resident Outside the Kingdom of Denmark:  Due to significant visa backlog, the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen is not accepting nonimmigrant visa applications from applicants who are not ordinarily resident in the Kingdom of Denmark.  We will accept visa renewal applications from Danish citizens who reside in the United States.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.