Updates to Visa Reciprocity for Mexican Nationals
In line with the U.S. Department of State’s increased periodic review and update of visa “reciprocity” pursuant to a January 2017 Executive Order, Mexican nationals will now benefit from increased visa validity periods in the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor categories. The current reciprocity schedule, found on the Department of State website, now reflects that E-1 and E-2 visas for Mexican nationals can be issued for up to 48 months, up from 12 months, upon payment of increased processing fees of $296, up from $46. The increase in E-1 and E-2 visa validity for Mexican nationals suggests improved cooperation in reciprocal Mexican investor visa policies towards Americans consistent with the national interests of U.S. travelers and businesses.
The increase in E-1 and E-2 visa validity carries substantial practical advantages for Mexican nationals. Most prominently, extended visa validity means that business owners and key employees will benefit from the certainty of being equipped with visas authorizing return to the United States for a prolonged uninterrupted period. In the present circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on international travel and the temporary closure of U.S. consular posts worldwide, being equipped with a visa for a prolonged period carries enhanced value. Mexican National E-1 and E-2 business owners and key employees may now confidently plan cross-border business trips over an extended period without possibly having to plan for visa renewal along with uncertainty over the impact of delays and obstacles in visa renewals. Moreover, Mexican National E-1 and E-2 business owners and key employees are afforded the opportunity to grow and develop a newer business venture in the United States over a period of at least 48 months, rather than at least 12 months prior to consular scrutiny. This may be a benefit to newer business operations that for one reason or another do not achieve their business targets in a given year, however, continue to develop and direct a business enterprise on track to reach and surpass its initial business objectives and financial forecast over its first five years of operation. This benefit is consistent with the visa validity of most E-1 and E-2 countries whose citizens are issued visas for up to 60 months, allowing newer businesses more time to achieve business targets prior to being subjected to scrutiny by consular officers, which may serve as a disincentive to U.S. investment. Importantly, the validity of visa stamps is not determinative of the admission period in the U.S., with E-1 and E-2 visa holders admitted for a period of two (2) years upon each entry within visa validity; and with H-1B and L-1 visa holders being admitted for the period of validity of their USCIS approval notice (or Form I-129S in the case of blanket L visa holders).
In addition to benefitting from increased visa validity periods in the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor categories, Mexican nationals will also benefit from increased visa validity periods in the L-1 category for Intracompany Executives, Managers or Specialized Knowledge personnel and the H-1B category for Specialty Occupation Professionals, while the TN NAFTA Professional visa validity period remains the same at 12 months. The current reciprocity schedule now reflects that L-1 visas for Mexican nationals can be issued for up to 48 months, up from 12 months, upon payment of increased processing fees of $311, up from $57, and H-1B visas for Mexican nationals can be issued for up to 36 months, up from 12 months, upon payment of increased processing fees of $252, up from $57. Correspondingly, personnel in the L-1 and H-1B categories will also benefit from the certainty of being equipped with visas authorizing return to the United States for a prolonged uninterrupted period.
*Special thanks to Chris Costa for his valuable assistance in preparing this GT blog post.