The Department of State (DOS) has implemented revised visa stamp reciprocity for L-1, L-2 and E-1/ E-2 visa holders. Now, the maximum validity date of an L-1 or L-2 visa of a French national will be seventeen (17) months. The previous validity period was five (5) years. The new validity period for E-1 and E-2 visa holders is twenty five (25) months. The previous validity period was five (5) years.

This change will impact the ability of French nationals to travel in and out of the United States during the duration of their L-1 and L-2 validity periods, which will generally still be issued for a maximum of three (3) years, assuming an individual’s passport does not expire within three (3) years of L-1 or L-2 approval. Note, this change does not require L-1 and L-2 visa holders to depart the United States within seventeen (17) months. If an L-1 or L-2 visa holder does not have any international travel plans after the expiration of the L-1 and L-2 visa stamps, that individual may continue to remain lawfully in the United States until their I-94 expiration date, which is generally the same day as the validity period of their approval notice from USCIS or the I-129S form annotated by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Travel after expiration of the relevant visa stamp will require a visit to a U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain a new visa stamp before returning to the United States.

For French nationals who are E-1 and E-2 visa holders, their period of authorized stay in the United States, as indicated on their I-94, is currently two (2) years after each entry, and this will continue even after the reciprocity change. They will be permitted to stay for two full years even if they enter the United States one day before their E-1 or E-2 visa expires. Once they leave the U.S. after expiration of their E-1 or E-2 visa, however, they will need to apply for a new visa.

U.S. immigration law requires DOS to set country-specific visa durations based on the principle of reciprocity, or, in other words, based on that country’s treatment of U.S. visa applicants in similar categories, among other considerations. While there have been press reports and announcements previously regarding the decreased validity periods for L-1, L-2 and E-1/E-2 visa holders, DOS has only recently updated its website to reflect these changes.