Worldwide: U.S. To Shorten Validity Of E Visas For French Citizens

Last Updated: August 30 2019
Article by Yova Borovska

On August 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that the maximum validity of E visa stamps for French citizens will decrease from 60 months to 15 months, effective on August 29, 2019. This change is based on the treatment that U.S. Citizens receive from the government of France for similar visas. When a foreign government imposes a certain visa stamp validity limit on U.S. citizens, the U.S. in turn imposes a similar validity on citizens of that country, and vice versa. DOS maintains a table for each country that lists the U.S. visa maximum validity periods by country and visa type. It is referred to as the visa Reciprocity Schedule and is periodically updated by DOS. Therefore, U.S. visa validity dates vary from country to country and depend on the visa classification. The Reciprocity Schedule for France has not yet been updated to reflect the change discussed above. 

E-1 and E-2 visas are only available to nationals of countries that have commercial treaties with the U.S. France has such a treaty with the U.S., which was entered into on December 21, 1960. The E-1 visa is for treaty traders coming to the U.S. to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country. The E-2 visa is for individuals coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital. The E-1 and E-2 visa categories can also be utilized by employees who are coming to the U.S. to fill an executive/supervisory role or provide skills essential to the operations of an entity that qualifies as an E-1 or E-2 business.

Generally, before traveling to the U.S. and seeking admission into the U.S., foreign nationals must apply for a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad. There is a difference between visa stamp validity and period of admission after entry into the U.S. A visa stamp placed inside an individual's passport allows travel to the U.S. during its validity, but it does not guarantee admission into the U.S. The visa stamp is issued by DOS, while admission into the U.S. is handled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a different agency. The visa stamp can be single-entry or multiple entry. The validity of the visa stamp depends on the category and on the country of nationality of the holder. The visa stamp does not govern an individual's stay in the U.S. It serves as a travel authorization, similar to a flight ticket or boarding pass. CBP may grant admission for up to the maximum duration allowed under the particular visa category. For E-1 and E-2 visas, the maximum period of admission is two years. CBP may choose to shorten this period of admission. For example, if an individual requesting admission in E status has a passport valid for less than two years, CBP would likely admit that individual only until the date of expiration of his or her passport.

The above change affects the issuance of visa stamps by DOS, which may impact the ability of E-1 treaty traders and E-2 treaty investors from France to travel internationally, but it does not affect the maximum period of admission that E-1 and E-2 visa holders may be granted by CBP upon entering the U.S., which is up to two years. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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