COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

COVID-related international travel restrictions for certain countries remain in place. US embassies and consulates abroad continue to operate with limited staffing, and certain consular posts accept only certain types of visa appointments. Check the Department of State's website for up-to-date information. Essentially, non-US citizens and permanent residents (EXCEPT STUDENTS seeking to enter the US on F-1 or J-1 visas) who have been physically present in any country subject to the Department of State's COVID-related restrictions--including Brazil, China (except Hong Kong and Macau), Europe's Schengen area, India, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and South Africa &mash; during any part of the 14 days prior to their intended entry to the US cannot travel directly to the US without a national interest exception (NIE). Individuals seeking to enter the US from these countries must continue to consult the Department of State's website for visa appointment wait times, consulate-specific procedures, and international travel updates. Expect arrival delays and a request to provide extensive documentation of the individual's direct contribution to a US critical infrastructure sector if your employee/scholar is attempting to enter the US directly from any of these countries.

Employee Selected for Administrative Processing

  • Department of State Consular Officers may select a visa applicant for an extensive background review known as "administrative processing" (or "221g") at any time and request information about past known addresses, current research objectives, etc. All applicants must fulfill multiple criteria to the satisfaction of the consular officer. The burden of proof lies with applicants to demonstrate that the documents presented are genuine and that they are eligible for the visa.
  • Selection for administrative processing was a known travel risk even before COVID. Please do not use outside channels to request political assistance. Unfortunately, congressional offices are often unable to help expedite visa issuance except in cases of extreme emergency, and even an interruption to patient care is not enough. The Department of State considers visa applications to be a matter of national security and will not circumvent the review process under any circumstances. Regardless, UAB (and the University of Alabama System) has a protocol for obtaining congressional assistance, and departments  must operate within that protocol. If you believe a situation is truly emergent, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we will consult with the appropriate liaison.
  • ISSS cannot advise on HR issues about continuing pay and benefits for individuals selected for administrative processing. Decisions about whether to place someone on unpaid leave, charge vacation days, etc. should be made at the departmental level in consultation with your unit's HR Consultant. Similarly, if the individual selected for administrative processing is a student receiving a scholarship, student assistantship, or graduate assistantship please consult HR or your unit's fiscal officer to determine next steps, if any.
  • If your student, employee, or visiting scholar is selected for administrative processing, notify ISSS immediately so that we can advise and provide additional guidance or a support letter as and when appropriate. We track these cases for trends, etc. The Department of State will not entertain inquiries until at least 30 days have passed, and harassing them can result in additional delay.