The Department of State (DOS) has updated its reciprocity schedule with shortened visa validity periods for French citizens. Specifically L-1/L-2 visas are now valid for 17 months and E-1/E-2 visas are now valid for 25 months.  Prior to this recent change, both visa categories were eligible for validity periods of 60 months.

Who is eligible for L-1/L-2 and E-1/E-2 visas?

  • The L-1 visa is used to transfer foreign employees who have been employed abroad by a company that is related to the US L-1 petitioner. It is available to multinational managers, executives, and employees with specialized or advanced knowledge of the petitioning organization’s products, services, and/or processes and procedures.  The L-2 visa is available to the spouse and children of L-1 transferees.
  • The E-1 (treaty trader) visa allows nationals of countries who have a treaty of commerce or navigation with the US to enter the United States to engage in substantial trade between the US and the treaty country.
  • The E-2 (treaty investor) visa allows nationals of countries that have treaties of commerce or navigation with the United States to enter the United States to invest a substantial amount of capital and develop and direct the investment enterprise. The E-2 visa is also available to nationals of the treaty country who are seeking the enter the US to engage in duties that are executive, supervisory, or require essential skills.

Why did DOS shorten visa validity for France?  The validity period of visas for nationals of different countries is determined by the treatment of US visitors to those countries and other factors, such security and immigration policies. The US Embassy in Paris stated that the changes were made to reciprocate the terms set for US citizens in France.

What does this mean? Foreign nationals who reside in the United States must have valid unexpired visas in their passports in order to be admitted to the United States following travel abroad.  Therefore, for those who travel frequently, this will means more visa applications will be required. Foreign nationals who do not need to travel may remain in the United States post-visa expiration, so long as their I-94s remain valid.

Note of Caution: Because I-94s determine a foreign national’s approved period of stay in the United States, it is incumbent upon foreign nationals to download copies of their I-94s after each international trip.  Errors are common and can negatively affect immigration status if not corrected immediately.