DOS changed its rule governing the duration of L visa validity. Previously, L visas were limited to the validity period of the approved petition, which, according to DHS regulations, cannot exceed three years. The new rule ties L visa validity to reciprocity schedules provided to consular offices by the DOS. These schedules are based upon the reciprocal treatment the applicant’s country affords U.S. nationals, U.S. permanent residents, or aliens granted refugee status in the United States. The decoupling of L visa duration and petition validity periods leaves the former to be governed by 22 CFR 41.112.
The new rule benefits L status recipients whose home countries’ reciprocity schedules allow L visa validity for a longer period of time than the initial validity indicated in the petition approved by USCIS and who have extended their stay in the United States in L status. For example, if reciprocity schedule for country X allows for a five-year L visa validity, a person whose employer has obtained an individual L petition approval for a three-year period will be able to obtain a five-year L visa in his/her passport. As a result, after the employer files an extension petition in the United States to seek an extension of his/her stay for an additional two-year period, the employee will not need to apply for a new L visa at a U.S. consulate for international travel during that additional two-year period because his/her visa in the passport would remain valid as it was initially issued for a longer period.
The Federal Register notice is available here.