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Issuance of L Visas Based on Reciprocity Schedule

The Department of State (DOS) issued a final rule permitting the issuance of L visas with validity periods based on the visa reciprocity schedule which reflects the reciprocal treatment the applicant’s country accords the U.S. Under the current rule, L visas are limited to the petition validity period which is determined by USCIS and currently cannot exceed 3 years. An individual in L status may apply for an extension in increments of up to two years, but the total period of stay may not exceed 5 or 7 years for individuals employed in a specialized knowledge or managerial/executive capacity, respectively. The change in regulation allowing for issuance of full validity L visas based on the visa reciprocity schedule will benefit those 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 the petition approved by USCIS and who have extended their L stay while in the United States. As such, these individuals would not be required to apply again for an L visa if they were to travel outside the United States during the period prescribed under the applicable reciprocity schedule, as is currently required when petition validity has been extended. This new rule took effect on February 14, 2012.