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Updates from US Consulates in Germany and Austria: Limited Visa Services and Applications for Exceptions to Travel Ban from Schengen Area

Business Law Alert Sarah Ames

Relationship between the Germany and the Austria. Two flags of countries on heaven with sunset. 3D rendered illustration.

It's a welcome change to let you know about positive news coming from the US Consulates in Germany and Austria.

It was announced today that the US Consulate in Germany will resume limited visa processing on July 20. At the moment, the Consulate will prioritize services for US citizens and residents of Germany. Third country nationals that do not reside in Germany may not yet apply for a visa. Furthermore, the Consulate also announced that in limited circumstances, travelers may now qualify for a national interest waiver exception to the Presidential Proclamation 9993 which prohibited non-exempt persons from traveling to the US if they spent any time in the Schengen area (and some other countries) within a 14 day period immediately prior to seeking to enter the US.

It is not yet clear which categories will be processed after July 20 and we are awaiting further clarification. It was announced that Munich will only be processing F/M and J visas (those J visas that are not excluded by one of the later Presidential Proclamations). Students require a current I-20 form that meets all requirements.

Just as encouraging is the announcement that it will now be possible for residents of Germany to apply for a national interest exception or waiver at a Consulate in Germany. Please note that even if one already has a valid visa, it will still be necessary to file an application to obtain an exception from the US Consulate. The following categories of travelers may possibly qualify for a national interest exception:

  • Public Health: Travel as a public health or healthcare professional or researcher 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 disease research).
  • Students: All students, and their dependents, traveling to the United States on an F or M visa to pursue a full course of study or on a J visa to participate in an exchange program as a bona fide student.
  • Academics: All exchange visitors and their dependents traveling to the United States on J visas in the following categories: Professors, Research Scholars, Short Term Scholars, or Specialists.
  • Investors: Travel in connection with investment or trade in the U.S. economy that generates a substantial economic impact. This can include investors and treaty traders with E visas and certain essential senior-level employees, and their dependents.
  • Economic: Temporary travel that provides a substantial economic benefit to the U.S. economy, including:
    • Technical experts and specialists to travel to the US temporarily to install, service, maintain, or receive training for vessels, machinery and other specialized equipment used by U.S. and foreign firms with a substantial investment in the United States.
    • Senior-level managers and executives, and their dependents, who provide strategic direction necessary for the success of the company or venture.
    • Professional athletes, dependents, and essential staff who enter the United States to participate in major sporting events, which bolster the U.S. economy.

The U.S. Consulate in Austria has also resumed limited visa processing for citizens and residents of Austria provided that they qualify for a national interest exception. The Consulate in Vienna is now processing E, B, F, M and certain J visas for travelers that would qualify for a national interest exception. Unlike the US Consulate in Germany, the categories for a national interest exception are as stated in the relevant Presidential Proclamation and there is no separate list for possible exceptions.

Some other European Consulates are starting to resume limited visa services.

If you have any questions or if we can assist you in assessing and preparing an application for a national interest exception, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.