U.S. Visa and Travel FAQs for non-U.S. citizens during COVID-19

U.S. Embassy Dublin
Consular Affairs

Last updated: May 4th, 2021

We understand your concern about visas and travel to the United States in light of the continuing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We hope that this information will help answer your questions.

Due to the volume of inquiries we receive, we are only able to respond to individual questions that are not answered on this page or elsewhere on our website. Please, therefore, carefully review these FAQs to find the information you require. Any updates to the Presidential Proclamations, travel restrictions, and visa operations will be posted on this page, so please bookmark this page and check back regularly.

If you have a question about a future visa application or an application that has been in process since before March 20, 2020, please be aware that we are unable to provide further guidance at this time. We ask that you continue to monitor our website for updates and contact us with any questions only after normal visa services have resumed.

Please make sure that you read the General Information section in full, and then navigate to the Nonimmigrant Visa, Immigrant Visa, or Fiancé(e) section as appropriate for more information that is relevant to your circumstances.

General Information

Q: Is the U.S. Embassy in Dublin closed? Has my visa interview appointment been cancelled?

The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to have an effect on Embassy Dublin visa operations. Under the Government of Ireland’s COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 – The Path Ahead, operations remain very limited and wait times for appointments and processing times will be greatly extended.

The Embassy’s first priority is always the health and safety of customers and staff, and COVID-19 mitigation efforts require us to allow physical distancing in our small waiting room, which severely limits the number of appointments we can offer. We are also operating with limited staffing to allow for physical distancing in our workspaces. Additionally, the Consular Section serves both American citizens and visa applicants.

Consular Section appointment priority is as follows:

  • Essential American citizen services
  • Immigrant visa services (family-based immigrant visa applicants, e.g. spouses, children, and fiancées of U.S. citizens)
  • Nonimmigrant visa services for life-and-death emergencies and those going to the United States for direct COVID-19 mitigation purposes

We hope this explains the limited services Embassy Dublin’s Consular Section can offer, especially nonimmigrant visa services.

Please note, the Embassy in Dublin will continue to observe and operate in line with Irish public health advice and will resume routine visa operations only when it is safe to do so – appointment cancelations in the future are possible.  Wait times for appointments and processing times are much longer than usual, and we advise visa applicants not to finalize non-refundable travel plans unless they receive a visa.

If you have a visa appointment at Embassy Dublin, please ensure that you monitor the email address that you used to register with the Visa Appointment Service, including your junk or spam folder, as that is how you will be contacted if an appointment is postponed or cancelled. You may also log into your Appointment Service account for nonimmigrant visa appointment information. You can only schedule nonimmigrant visa appointments through the Appointment Service, not via email with the Embassy. If you need assistance, Appointment Service customer care is available strictly via this webpage.

Please also keep in mind the following:

  • Travelers in the United States should only depart with the understanding that travel restrictions may prevent their return or necessitate their being outside the United States for an extended or indefinite period of time. Pandemic conditions and travel restrictions under which persons may travel from Ireland to the United States have changed suddenly and unpredictably and may do so again.  Please review the latest information on travel restrictions available below.
  • Applicants entering Ireland must wait at least 14 days before attending an in-person visa appointment and may be asked to present evidence of when they most recently entered the country, such as a boarding pass, flight itinerary, or immigration entry stamp in their passport. This policy applies regardless of vaccination status
  • For those attending a visa appointment, if your visa is approved at the time of interview, please allow at least 10 working days for processing and the return of your passport. In some cases, processing might take longer.
  • Please do not make non-refundable travel plans unless you have your passport with U.S. visa in hand.
  • For those renewing by courier, please allow at least 15 working days, although processing may take longer.
  • To mitigate the risk of COVID-19, the Embassy does not permit in-person drop off/collection of documents.
  • If you have an urgent need to travel and wish to be considered for an expedited appointment, please review the question I believe that the Presidential Proclamations do not apply to me and urgently need to apply for a visa. What should I do?

 Q: Can I travel to the United States? What does the travel order (Presidential Proclamation 10143) mean?

Entry of foreign nationals who were physically present within the following list of countries within 14 days prior to their entry or attempted entry into the United States is suspended, per Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143 and the Presidential Proclamation of April 30: India; Brazil; The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, excluding overseas territories outside of Europe; The Republic of Ireland; South Africa; The 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland); The Islamic Republic of Iran; The People’s Republic of China.

Please click here to review Presidential Proclamation 10143 in full for detailed information.

The travel restriction does not apply to American citizens, legal permanent residents, most immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in Presidential Proclamation 10143. Travelers are advised to visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website for further guidance on U.S. travel restrictions.

Q: I believe the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10143 do NOT apply to me, and I have a valid nonimmigrant, immigrant, or fiancé(e) visa or I have a valid registration under ESTA. What should I do?

Information about the status of ESTA registrations at this time is provided only through the official ESTA website.

If your ESTA was cancelled but you believe that you fall under one of the exceptions identified in Presidential Proclamation 10143, please refer to the Travel Proclamation Help on the ESTA website for guidance.

If you believe that the travel restriction does not apply to you, we suggest that you contact your airline for the latest information about your travel plans and any restrictions.

If you travel, we suggest that you carry any official original documentation that you have that you believe demonstrates why you are exempt from a travel restriction, such as a Permanent Resident card (commonly known as a Green Card), a marriage certificate or a birth certificate, so that it is available if it is requested for review. You may also wish to carry a copy of the Presidential Proclamation itself.

Entry into the United States is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Officer who questions each traveler applying for entry into the United States.  Please note that U.S. Embassy Dublin cannot guarantee that any traveler applying for entry to the United States will be permitted to enter by DHS.

All airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three (3) calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.  

See the CDC Proof of Negative Test Result page to view the order, complete the attestation, and to see FAQs.

If you believe that the restrictions do not apply to you, but you need to apply for a visa, scroll down to the specific information for nonimmigrant visa applicants.

 Q: I am NOT exempt from the travel restrictions in Presidential Proclamation 10143, but I have an emergency need to travel and I have a valid nonimmigrant, immigrant, or fiancé(e) visa or a valid ESTA. Is there anything I can do?

If you are physically present in the Republic of Ireland and do not fall under one of exceptions to the Presidential Proclamation 10143, but you have a valid visa or a valid ESTA and you have a humanitarian need for travel, such as for critical medical treatment, or have another urgent need to travel, send an email to DublinNIE@state.gov.  Please make the subject of your request “National Interest Exception Request: SURNAME, FIRST NAME” and then provide a detailed description of the emergency or urgent need in your message.  Please note a National Interest Exception might also be known as a “212(f) Exception”.  We are unable to answer emails not relating to a request for an exception through this email address. Please contact us no more than 30 days before you plan to travel.  We strongly recommend prospective travelers not make non-refundable plans until such time as they have an approved National Interest Exception. If you are not physically present in the Republic of Ireland, then please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you for information. We can only assist those physically present in the Republic of Ireland.

 Q: I tried to travel to the United States and was told that I need to apply for a “212(f) waiver.” How do I do that?

Please follow the instructions in the FAQ above.

 Q: Is a negative COVID-19 test required for entry into the United States?

Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.  See the CDC Proof of Negative Test Result page to view the order and to see FAQs.  Information on commercial COVID-19 testing in Ireland is available HERE.

 This COVID-19 test requirement is in addition to, not in place of, the Presidential Proclamations as outlined elsewhere on this page. 

 Q: Will I be required to self-quarantine after I enter the United States?

The Department of State recommends the CDC website for the most up-to-date information regarding quarantine regulations. As of the time of the last update, the CDC strongly encourages a two-week period of self-isolation.  Some states may have mandatory quarantine requirements.

 Q: I am in the United States and I am worried about overstaying my authorized period of admission. What should I do?

If you are in the United States, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information about how to apply to extend your stay. While you are in the United States, any questions about your status are a matter for USCIS, not the Embassy. Information and contact details can be found on the USCIS website.

Q: I have scheduled an appointment. What can I expect when visiting the embassy?

You will go through an airport-style security screening. Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone entering the embassy who is 11 years of age or older must wear a face mask.

You must not bring laptops or bags larger than a handbag or small backpack to your appointment as they are not permitted into the building and there are no storage facilities available.

If you are arriving into Ireland for an appointment, you must wait at least 14 days before your interview date, even if fully vaccinated, in line with Embassy policy.  Should you arrive to the Embassy without meeting this requirement, your appointment will be canceled.  You may be asked to present evidence of when you most recently entered the country, such as a boarding pass, flight itinerary, or immigration entry stamp in your passport.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus, you must reschedule your appointment through the Visa Appointment Service website here. You must complete a 14-day self-isolation period before appearing at the Embassy.  If you are not able to complete the 14-day self-isolation before your scheduled appointment date, you must reschedule your appointment through the Visa Appointment Service website.

To maintain physical distancing requirements, please arrive no more than 10 minutes before your appointment.  If you arrive late or without a face mask, you will not be permitted entry and will have to reschedule your appointment.  Our office may send you instructions 1-3 days before your appointment, so please check your email regularly.

Q: Can I have a refund?

As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you have paid the fee but not yet attended the visa interview, 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 consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa appointment with the already paid fee. Please monitor https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-ie/niv/ for further information and updates.

If you have attended your visa interview, the application fee was levied to cover the costs of adjudicating and processing the application. No refund is possible. Please see the relevant specific section below for information about visa validity, provided that your new purpose of travel is consistent with the type of visa you hold.

I have a question about my existing visa application

If you have questions about a visa application that was submitted before the travel restrictions and the answer is not provided in these FAQs (keep checking this webpage for the latest updates) or elsewhere on our website, please monitor our website for updates. After normal operations resume, you can contact us at that time to request case-specific information.

If you were asked to send information or documentation in connection with an existing application, please do not mail it at this time. Please monitor our website for updates. After normal operations have resumed, you may follow the instructions on your Visa Appointment Service account about how to send documents to the Embassy.

If your application is subject to additional administrative processing, or is under review pending a decision on a waiver of ineligibility or for any other reason, that will remain the status of your case until you are advised otherwise.

Now that you have read the General Information, review the section below for the specific information that applies to you.

Specific Information for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants and Nonimmigrant Visa Holders

Q: My interview for a nonimmigrant visa was cancelled. Can I get a refund?

As explained at the time of fee payment, visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you have paid the fee but not yet attended the visa interview, we will extend the validity of your payment (known as the MRV fee) until September 30, 2022, to allow applicants whose appointment was cancelled as a result of the suspension of consular operations an opportunity to schedule a new visa appointment with the already paid fee. Please monitor https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-ie/niv/ for further information and updates.

Please note that visa fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you wish to apply for a visa through another embassy or consulate, you will be required to pay a new application fee and complete a new Form DS-160.

Q: I believe that the Presidential Proclamations do not apply to me and urgently need to apply for a Visa. What should I do?

Please find instructions on how to apply for a visa through the U.S. Embassy in Dublin HERE.  Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Dublin cannot accept emergency appointment, called “expedite”, requests from applicants who do not reside in the consular district of the Republic of Ireland.

If you are physically present in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, or Great Britain, please visit https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gb/niv/information/faqs#need_earlier_appt for instructions on how to request an expedite in Belfast or in London. You may find contact information for the Consulate in Belfast and the Embassy in London at https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-information-services/. If you are physically present elsewhere, please review the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for where you are for information.

You may book a visa interview appointment for Dublin online. Please refer to our appointment website for step-by-step information about the application process.

Once you have booked an interview date through the calendar in your Visa Appointment Service account, you can then use the ‘Request Expedite’ feature. You will be asked to briefly outline the reason that you must travel. The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will review your request. If you need assistance, please contact customer service.

Please note that appointment availability is extremely limited, and we cannot guarantee that an expedited appointment will be available for you. Please also be aware that an expedite request relates only to the date of the visa interview. No expedited visa processing is available.

Q: I am a student and I need to get my visa in time for my program. What can I do?

Please follow the instructions at the above question to request an expedited appointment.  We are severely limited in the number of appointments we can accommodate each day with priority going to genuine life and death emergencies and for those seeking to travel for direct COVID-19 mitigation efforts.  As such, we will be unable to accommodate most requests.

Q: I have a valid student visa (F-1 or M-1). Can I travel to the United States?

If you 1) hold a valid F-1 or M-1 visa, 2) are traveling from the UK, Ireland, or the Schengen Area, and 3) have not been physically present in Brazil, Iran, or China within the last 14 days, you do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel to the United States. If your visa is still valid and you intend to resume your studies or undertake Optional Practical Training (OPT), you can travel directly to a United States Port of Entry to apply for admission. Admission to the United States is a matter for CBP officials at the U.S. Port of Entry and all travelers are subject to questioning. No assurances are given in advance.

If you have a valid visa and you will be traveling to undertake OPT, you should carry your annotated Form I-20 and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in addition to your visa.

Please review the CDC website if you have questions about quarantine regulations.  All airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three (3) calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel.  

See the CDC Proof of Negative Test Result page to view the order, complete the attestation, and to see FAQs.

We strongly recommend that all current and prospective F-1 and M-1 students and study abroad advisers review the comprehensive Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) FAQ. This includes important new information about full course of study requirements and online learning, Form I-20, employment, and the SEVIS fee.

Q: Can my nonimmigrant visa be extended?

Nonimmigrant visas cannot be extended. However, the majority of nonimmigrant visas are valid for several years. Please check the visa in your passport to confirm the validity period of the visa in your case.

Q. Will I be able to apply for the J1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) program this year through Embassy Dublin?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Embassy in Dublin remains unable to resume most visa operations.  We are currently offering as many appointments as resources and safety allow. Due to ongoing Government of Ireland restrictions, limited space in the consular waiting room, and the prioritization of services for American citizens and immigrant visa services, the Embassy has a reduced capacity to process nonimmigrant visas.  We do not currently envision being able to offer any routine nonimmigrant visa appointments, including for petition-based employment visas, student visas, exchange visitor visas, or business/tourist visas.

Specific Information for Immigrant Visa Applicants, Immigrant Visa Holders and LPRs

Q: I have received notification from the Embassy that my upcoming visa interview has been cancelled. What do I do now?

The Embassy will reach out to all affected applicants and will provide new appointment slots when in a position to do so.

Q: My case is at the NVC and I have been waiting a long time, when will I have my interview?

If you are applying for an immigrant visa and the case is being processed by The National Visa Center (NVC), please click here and visit your CEAC account (if applicable) for information. Please contact NVC directly using the online contact form on that website if you still have questions. The Embassy cannot answer questions about cases currently pending with the NVC, including questions about expedite options or about appointments.

Q: What did Presidential Proclamation 10014  refer to? 

Under Presidential Proclamation 10014,the Department of State was unable to issue immigrant visas, with certain exceptions President Biden rescinded Proclamation 10014 on February 24, 2021. Please visit THIS SITE for additional information.  

Please be aware that, while the rescission of Presidential Proclamation 10014 enables the Department of State to issue certain categories of immigrant visas previously restricted under the proclamation, due to the impact of COVID-19, immigrant visa appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin are extremely limited and wait times for appointments are much longer than normal.

Q: I have an immigrant visa. Is that the same as a Green Card? Am I an LPR?

You are not a Lawful Permanent Resident until such time as you apply for entry to the United States using your immigrant visa and you are admitted as an LPR by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official.  Any individual who has been issued an immigrant visa but who has not been admitted to the United States using that visa is considered an immigrant visa holder, not an LPR. If you hold a valid immigrant visa, please review the information about Presidential Proclamation 10143 in the General Information section near the top of these FAQs.

When an immigrant visa holder is admitted as an LPR at a U.S. Port of Entry, their passport is stamped with the words “Processed for I-551 temporary evidence of lawful residence” which helps facilitate overseas travel while they are waiting for the Permanent Resident Card to be processed.

Q: Can my immigrant visa be extended?

Immigrant visas cannot be extended. However, if you are unable to travel within the validity period of your visa due to circumstances beyond your control, you can request visa reissuance.

If you were issued with an E-3 visa or a IR-1, CR-1, IR-2 or CR-2 visa as the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen that has now expired and you wish to move to the United States urgently, please contact us to check whether it is possible for your visa to be reissued on an emergency basis. Please provide the full names of the visa applicant(s) and the petitioner, plus the case number (typically DBL followed by ten digits).

If you were issued with a different category of immigrant visa (not an IR-1, IR-2, CR-1, CR-2 or E-3 visa), please monitor our website for the latest updates. After normal visa operations have resumed and if your unused visa has expired, please contact the Immigrant Visa Unit at that time to request visa reissuance. We will send you information about how to submit your passport, visa package (if applicable), and a letter explaining why you were unable to travel and requesting visa reissuance. Please note that you will be required to undergo a new medical examination and pay a new visa fee before the visa can be reissued. Please do not schedule a medical exam until instructed to do so by our office.

If you are currently in the United States, please be aware that the expiration date of your visa has no bearing on your length of stay in the United States. Please check the stamp in your passport applied by officials at the U.S. Port of Entry for information about your authorized period of stay. See the FAQ above for information about how to apply to extend your stay.

Q: I am a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and I am currently outside the United States. What should I do?

As explained above, the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10143 do not apply to legal permanent residents.  U.S. Immigration law assumes that a person admitted to the United States as an immigrant will live in the United States permanently. Remaining outside the United States for more than 12 months may result in a loss of lawful permanent resident status.  Immigrants who hold permanent resident status and reside outside of the United States for more than 12 months without prior approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must obtain a new immigrant visa to return to the United States. Prior approval from USCIS consists of a re-entry permit which can only be applied for in the United States. The holder of a USCIS re-entry permit may remain outside of the United States during validity period of re-entry permit normally up to 24 months. Information about travel and maintaining permanent resident status is provided through the USCIS website.

Specific Information for Fiancé(e) Visa (K-1) Applicants and Fiancé(e) Visa Holders

Q: Will my fiancé(e) visa case expire? Can I continue with the application process?

If your application is being processed by the Embassy in Dublin, applicants are given 12 months from the date on which the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Unit writes to them with instructions about the status of their case in which to apply for the visa.

If you have been advised that your case file has been forwarded to the Embassy in Dublin, you may refer to our website for an overview of the application procedure and begin compiling the necessary supporting documents. Please do not schedule a medical exam until instructed to do so by our office. Please check this website regularly for updates about visa services and travel.

If the fiancé(e) visa petition expires, you may request revalidation of the petition by providing a letter from the petitioner stating that you both remain legally free to marry and that you will do so within 90 days of your arrival in the United States. You should take the letter with you to your visa interview; do not mail or email the letter to the Embassy.

Q: I have a valid K-1 visa. Can I travel directly from Ireland to the United States?

As of April 82021, the Secretary of State has determined that travel on an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is in the national interest for purposes of granting exceptions under the geographic COVID proclamations. Our office is now able to grant immigrant and fiancé(e) visas to applicants otherwise eligible, notwithstanding these proclamations. Further information is available here.

Please review the CDC website if you have questions about quarantine regulations. All airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three (3) calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Passengers must also attest, under penalty of law, to having received a negative qualifying test result or to recovery from COVID-19 and medical clearance to travel. 

See the CDC Proof of Negative Test Result page to view the order, complete the attestation, and to see FAQs. 

Q: Can I extend my K-1 visa?

Fiancé(e) visas cannot be extended. However, if you are unable to travel within the validity period of your visa due to circumstances beyond your control, you can request visa reissuance. Please monitor our website for the latest updates. After normal operations have resumed and your unused visa has expired, please contact the Immigrant Visa Unit at that time to request visa reissuance. We will send you information about how to submit your passport, visa package (if applicable) and a letter explaining why you were unable to travel and requesting visa reissuance. Please note that you will be required to undergo a new medical examination and pay a new visa fee before the visa can be reissued. Please do not schedule a medical exam until instructed to do so by our office.

Q: If my I-129F petition has expired, do I need to file a new one before I have a K visa interview?

The I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is valid for four months; however, consular officers may revalidate the I-129F petition in four month increments once processing of K visa applications resumes. For most cases impacted by the suspension of visa services or COVID-19 travel restrictions it will not be necessary to file a new I-129F petition.

Any other questions

If you have any further questions about visas, please see our website, including the Frequently Asked Question (FAQs), for detailed information. Please note that we will not respond to email inquiries if your question is addressed on our website.

If your question is about ESTA or the Visa Waiver Program, please note that those programs are administered by the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP), not by this office. If you have ESTA questions after checking our website (including the FAQs) and the official ESTA website (including the Help section), you can find additional information and contact details for CBP through their Info Center website.

If you have general questions about coronavirus (COVID-19), check our website for a list of useful resources.

If you have question about flights, please contact your airline or travel agent.