L Visa Applicants May Be Allowed Longer Periods of U.S. Stay

Under a new rule from the U.S. State Department (DOS), applicants for L visas (for intracompany transferees) may no longer be limited to an initial stay of either three years or whatever amount was authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to the initial visa petition.

Instead, certain applicants — namely those from countries who allow longer stays to people from the United States spending time there — will be able to stay in the U.S. for the amount of time allowed under the two countries’ reciprocity schedule. See the “Reciprocity by Country” page of the DOS website for information on individual countries.

Unfortunately, this new rule can result in a maximum visa validity period of LESS than three years if the person’s country of origin is stingy on its reciprocal treatment. Mexico, for example, allows only one year, and China and Brazil only two years.

The Federal Register contains the text of the new rule, called “Visas: Issuance of Full Validity L Visas to Qualified Applicants,” issued 2/14/12.