DOS has passed a new rule that permits the issuance of L visas with validity periods based on the visa reciprocity schedule, which for certain countries, can be for a period up to 5 years. Under the current DOS regulations, L visa duration is limited to the validity period of the L-1 petition. DOS has now passed a new rule, changing this regulation to delink visa and petition validity periods. Thus, under the new rule, L visas shall have the validity period based on reciprocity.
This change would benefit L-1 beneficiaries who are nationals of countries for which the reciprocity schedule prescribes visa validity for a longer period of time than the initial validity indicated in their approved L-1 petition, and who have extended their stay on L-1 status while in the United States. Specifically, L-1 beneficiaries from countries like Australia, Argentina, Japan, Germany, UK, Italy, South Korea, and India, among others, can now be issued L visas with validity periods of up to 5 years, even if validity period of their L-1 petitions is for a lesser duration.
However, not every L-1 beneficiary would benefit from this change. Visa reciprocity schedule for countries like Russia, China and Brazil, provide for lesser periods of visa validity, and therefore, L-1 beneficiaries from those countries would be issued L visas with validity periods of up to 2 years, even if validity period of their L-1 petitions is for a higher duration.
It must be noted that this change affects only the validity period of the L-1 visa, and does not alter the period of time that an L-1 nonimmigrant can stay in the United States. The total period of stay may still not exceed five years for aliens employed in a specialized knowledge capacity, or seven years for aliens employed in a managerial or executive capacity.
Contact VisaPro if you have any questions regarding this new rule on L visa validity period.