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Update: The impact of changes in E1 and E2 visas for French nationals
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</h3><h4><i>by <a href=”http://discuss.ilw.com/articles/articles/391685-article-from-the-city-to-the-hill-eb-5-dialogue-with-congressman-hakeem-jeffries-by-christina-dilbone#bio”>
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Paul Monson, Managing Director and Partner – Joorney
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Since August, those of us working with French nationals on E1 and E2 visas
had been closely following an announcement from the U.S. Department of
State on changes that would reduce the validity period for E1 and E2s from
five years to as short as 15 months.
recent ILW article
, I wrote about whether or not those changes would be implemented after
weeks of silence from the State Department. Now, it appears we have our
Several days ago, Roland Lescure, a French elected official with access to
the details of the negotiation, announced that indeed changes were being
made to the E1 and E2 visa programs, with the validity period being cut
from five years to 25 months.
<strong>Why reduce the validity period?</strong>
As previously noted, this reduction in validity is assumed to be
reciprocal. Americans willing to work or invest in France are subject to
The website of the U.S. Embassy in France described the change in validity
period as “commensurate to the treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by the
Government of France.” In other words, the U.S. is only retaliating to
measures implemented by France. But, upon further research, this could
actually be the result of a slight misunderstanding in the details of
French business visa and how it reciprocates to U.S. E1 and E2 visa
All other visa programs such as L, H, and others were affected which means
this is a full reorganization of visa timelines given to French applicants
from the US administration.
<strong>The impact on first-time applicants</strong>
For those who are applying for an E1 or E2 visa for the first time, the
best-case scenario for them is that the shorter time period until their
first renewal might actually make the entire process less stressful.
Instead of meeting requirements for a business plan over a five year
period, their targeting around a two-year period, which means they will
have to set reasonable goals and outcomes within a much shorter timeframe
(i.e. they’ll be expected to hire fewer people over 25 months than if they
were starting out during a 60-month period for example).
On the flipside, there may be some hesitation from French nationals to
apply and relocate their family knowing that two years from now they will
need to go through a renewal round. They will have to weigh the risks and
rewards of moving their family knowing that they only have a two year
period until having to renew their visa.
<strong>The impact on renewals</strong>
While the validity period shrinks dramatically, part of the negotiation
between both countries was to make the actual renewal process easier. The
American administration has said it is committed to making changes to the
current renewal process to a certain extent, but has not provided details
on what that would look like.
One way they could make it easier is to essentially standardize renewal
conditions and minimize attorney involvement and administrative fees
associated with renewal. Today, the conditions are very opaque. Even if you
have several employees, your business is making a profit and you are
following your previous business plan, you may still be subject to a fairly
rigorous renewal process. You could still spend time away from your kids
and family and spend a lot of money on ensuring your renewal is approved.
Standardizing renewal conditions and minimizing attorney involvement, as
well as administrative fees, would help make the process smoother. Also,
dropping the requirement of having an applicant’s full family in front of
the counselor would also mitigate some of the stress and costs associated
<strong>Reactions to this new ruling</strong>
The American administration and French officials settled somewhere in the
middle compared to the initial announcement in August. On one side, there
is a reduction of time for the validity period, which could slow investment
in the U.S. from French nationals.
But on the other hand, if you make it easier for everyone to renew every
two years, this ruling may have less of an impact on the absolute number of
E1 and E2 visa applicants from France.
Within the next few months, we should know more about how the U.S. plans to
ease the renewal process for French nationals. Until then, we will have to
wait and see the full impact of this new ruling.
About The Author<br/>
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<b>Paul Monson</b> is the Managing Director and Partner at Joorney Immigration Business Plans. The firm specializes in writing E2, L1 and EB5 business plans and market studies for foreign investors preparing their move to the US.
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