U.S. Department of State announces shortened validity period for French E visas1

On August 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) announced that effective August 29, 2019 E-1 and E-2 visas issued to French nationals will be limited to only 15 months. This is a significant reduction in the validity period of E visas for French nationals, which was previously 60 months. According to the DOS statement, “this change will decrease the validity commensurate to the treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by the Government of France.” However, there has been no significant change to the French visa scheme that would seem to warrant this response so it is unclear to what the DOS is referring.

E visa validity periods do vary from one country to the next based on the reciprocity schedule the U.S. has in place for each country. While 15 months is not the shortest validity period, nationals of most countries that participate in the E visa programs are eligible for visas of at least 24 months and often 60 months.
This change is unfortunate, as it runs counter to the intention of the E visa classification generally, which is to foster foreign investment and entrepreneurial endeavors in the U.S. Requiring French E visa holders to reapply for E visas so frequently, with all the attendant uncertainty that comes with each renewal, could certainly discourage investment in the U.S. market.