News on USA Entry Restrictions for Business Persons - continuing stricter restrictions on National Interest Exception ("NIE")

H. Roske & Associates LLP, June 6th, 2021.
After the new U.S. administration initially further tightened the ability to travel to the U.S. on business compared to the previous administration, the scope of permitted individuals was expanded again at the end of May 2021. Furthermore, all travelers, whether business travelers with ESTA, B1/B2 visas or those with U.S. work permits (exception: Green Card), require a "NIE". We summarized the current situation for you below. The documents required for a NIE are as follows:

1. copy of valid ESTA confirmation or visa
2. copy of passport
3. current curriculum vitae
4. letter of justification from the company in Germany/Austria/Switzerland on whose behalf you want to enter the country, as well as
5. letter of invitation from a U.S. company

The last two letters (#4 and 5), must meet the following criteria:

(i) The trip must serve either an industry that can be classified as one of the "critical infrastructure industries" (including their suppliers) or a "significant economic activity" in the United States. We have included a list of these industries at the end of this. Currently, there are sixteen in total. The alternative - a significant economic activity - has not yet been defined. From experience, consular staff tend to interpret the U.S. Department of State's requirements broadly.

(ii) The purpose of travel must mean a "vital" support. Vital support is best evidenced by threat(s) of loss of contract, breach of contract, claims for damages, layoffs, etc. In addition, support by executives and members of management is now also permitted as long as one of the previously mentioned requirements (i) is met.

(iii) The specific activity must be described, including reasons why there is no suitable personnel available in the U.S. for this purpose. For travelers providing vital support, the U.S. Embassy recommendations are as follows: "Your letter should describe how technical experts and specialists are required 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." To date, there are no specific requirements regarding management travel. We recommend that the justification carefully addresses the urgent need for the travel.

(iv) It must be justified why the activity cannot be carried out by telephone or e.g. by video call.

(v) The expected duration of the stay must be stated.

The NIE can then be applied for by email at the respective U.S. consulate. The current processing time is a few days to a week.

Critical Infrastructure Sectors:

  • Chemical Sector
  • Commercial Facilities Sector
  • Communications Sector
  • Critical Manufacturing Sector
  • Dams Sector
  • Defense Industrial Base Sector
  • Emergency Services Sector
  • Energy Sector
  • Financial Services Sector
  • Food And Agriculture Sector
  • Government Facilities Sector
  • Healthcare And Public Health Sector
  • Information Technology Sector
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials, And Waste Sector
  • Transportation Systems Sector
  • Water And Wastewater Systems Sector

For questions or to apply for an NIE, please contact Moritz Masberg (