The ABC's of Immigration Law

Differences In Dates in USCIS L Visa Approval & Consulate Passport Visa Stamp

Your passport L-1A visa stamp is good until 2015, but the USCIS approval expires in 2014, which one is correct?  The dichotomy in the passport visa stamp and the USCIS approval can be confusing.  There is a difference in the L status that is required to stay legally in the US (which USCIS approves) and the visa stamp that is required to enter the US (the passport stamp).  Before 2012, the Consulates issued passport visas only for duration of USCIS approval; since 2012, the L visa stamp is based on the reciprocal treatment the applicant’s country accords US citizens (i.e., citizens of Germany, UK and Japan get an automatic 5 year passport visa stamp).  This way the applicant need not return to the Consulate to get a renewed passport visa stamp.  However, this does not extend the time the L visa holder can stay in the US.  To confuse people even more, this also works in the reverse.  Citizens of China, Brazil and Russia only get 2 year passport visa stamps, irrespective of what the USCIS approval says.

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