Major changes announced — then pulled? — for E2 and E1 visas for French nationals


Over the last month, French nationals on E1 and E2 visas have been taken for a roller coaster ride after the announcement of major changes to the validity period for those business visas.

In August, the U.S. Department of State had announced changes in the E1 and E2 visa programs for French nationals that would reduce the validity period for those visas from 60 months to 15 months. This new policy was initially set to go into effect on Aug. 29 but was then delayed and set to be re-assessed on Sept. 26.

And now...crickets. The State Department has removed the mention of the policy change from its website. Still, the volatility is cause for concern, not just for French nationals but for other foreign business visa holders concerned about abrupt changes to their visa application conditions.

How did we get here and why was France seemingly targeted?

My team of immigration business plan professionals have been working hard to learn as much as we can about any pending changes to E1 and E2 visas. Based on our review of various online discussions, statements made by officials, and general lack of information, we prefer to take a more optimistic view on the news and believe these proposed changes — if they even come to fruition — to be only temporary.

Will the proposed French E1 and E2 visa program changes be implemented? If so, will they be temporary or permanent?

While the reduction from five years to just over one year is considerable, it is important to note that the measure is believed to be reciprocal. Americans willing to work or invest in France are subject to similar restrictions.

A recent update that was published on the website of the U.S. Embassy in France describes 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.

However, through research and after reading more on the topic, 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 programs.

Thus, it could be only a matter of time until the representatives of the two countries sit down and work out better conditions for their investors. That may already be happening given the abrupt lifting of this issue from the State Department’s website. A simple look at the numbers proves that doing so is in the best interest of both countries, especially the U.S.

In 2017, direct investments from France to the U.S. reached $275.47 billion, the highest level since 2000. That same year, the direct investments from the U.S. to France only reached $85.57 billion, less than the over 90 billion invested in 2008.

Under the circumstances, it is safe to say that it is in the best interests of the U.S. to keep these measures temporary. That is precisely what our team thinks will happen if these changes go into effect. These changes may even be part of a larger negotiation on foreign policy. Hopefully, France will review its policy soon and get the U.S. to do the same so that we do not have any more of these validation shortening scares.

Of course, this is just one take on the recent events and policy changes. More time and information are needed for a clear assessment of what will really happen.

Only time will tell if these changes reappear or ever come to fruition.

About The Author

Paul Monson 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.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.