Critical Restrictions On French Nationals (E Visas)

On August 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that the reciprocity schedule for France will be revised for E visas to decrease validity periods. Specifically, effective August 29, 2019, E visas will be limited to a validity of only 15 months. Until this change, E visas have had validity for 60 months.

In general, different types of U.S. nonimmigrant visas have different allowable validity periods depending on the nationality of the applicant, because the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires the DOS to set country-specific visa policies based on reciprocity. The validity periods, numbers of entries, and visa fees for different types of visas are based on each country’s treatment of similar classes of U.S. visitors to its territory, as well as national security, immigration, and other considerations.

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. E-1 visas are for applicants who are coming to the U.S. to “engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country.” While E-2 visas are for applicants who are coming to the U.S. to “develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.”

The reduction in validity time from 60 months to 15 months on E visas has been implemented to correspond with the “treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by the Government of France” according to the DOS website.

To date, the DOS’s Reciprocity Schedule for France, which can be found here, has not been updated yet. Further, the DOS has not provided instructions for applicants or further information on how the reduced E visa validity periods will be implemented by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs Border Protection, and U.S. Embassies in France. We are monitoring the change closely and will provide more information as it becomes available.