The reciprocity schedule for French E-1/2 visas is changing on August 29, 2019. Any E-1/2 visas issued to French nationals on or after August 29, 2019 will only be valid for 15 months (rather than 5 years).
Why is this change being made?
This change is being made so that visas issued by the US government to French nationals matches the parallel category of visa issued by French authorities to American citizens. You can read more about this change here.
What does this mean?
This means that new E-1/2 visas placed in French passports will only be valid for 15 months. Under the current procedures, applicants would need to follow the existing “truncated” application procedure in order to renew their E-1/2 visas after 15 months. It is not yet known if the US Embassy in Paris will offer an even more streamlined procedure that would involve a company registration that would last longer than the 15-month validity of the visa.
It is also important to take into account, that E-1/2 visa holders are entitled to a 2-year period of admission on their I-94 regardless of the expiration date on the visa stamp so long as the visa is unexpired on the date of arrival. Keep in mind that the I-94 will always be limited to the expiration date of the passport.
Finally, applicants who do not wish to travel to make a new visa application at the Embassy every 15 months, may apply for an extension with the USCIS, though this is generally not the preferred procedure.
Will existing E-1/2 visas be impacted?
No, the 15-month limitation will only be imposed when the visa is renewed.
What should you do?
It is too late to obtain a new E-1/2 visa appointment prior to the August 29 effective date unless an application was previously submitted. Companies are encouraged to keep an inventory or report of all the visa expiration dates of their employees. Begin making plans to renew E-1/2 visas 6 – 8 months prior to the visa expiration date to help minimize the impact on US operations while the employee attends their visa appointment.
Matten Law will continue to monitor the status of the reciprocity arrangement. With the G7 meeting occurring this coming week in Biarritz, there is a possibility that this topic may arise in discussions between Trump and Macron. Should the reciprocity agreement change again, we will post a further update.
Please reach out to mattenlaw if you'd like to discuss your E-1 and E-2 visa options.