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On October 8, 2015, the Department of State (DOS) clarified that the endorsement validity dates of a Form I-129S control the period of a worker’s blanket L-1 classification.  In response to this DOS clarification, employers and holders of Blanket L visas are advised to verify the I-129S validity dates as soon as the endorsed form is issued by a Consulate or Embassy and prior to traveling to the United States.  Unfortunately, it is likely that employers will continue to see different expiration dates for endorsed I-129S Forms, L-1 visa stamps, and I-94 records.  Given these variables, it is important to keep in mind the following:

  • Depending on the reciprocity agreement between the United States and the worker’s home country, an L visa may be issued for up to five years.
  • Pursuant to current regulations and the Foreign Affairs Manual, I-129S forms can only be endorsed for three-year periods.
  • I-94 records should be issued for a three-year period upon an individual’s initial admission and up to the expiration date of the I-129S on subsequent admissions; however, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) frequently issues I-94 records with five-year validity periods.

The inconsistencies in the administration of current policy often result in confusion for employers and holders of Blanket L visas.  For example, if an individual is issued a visa stamp with a limited period of validity, but has an I-129S endorsement that is valid beyond the period of the visa stamp, the individual may apply for a new visa stamp at a Consulate or Embassy without being required to submit a new, fully documented Blanket L visa application.  An individual who is issued a five year visa stamp, however, and who has a three year I-129S endorsement, will be required to make a new Blanket L-1 visa application in order to obtain a new endorsed I-129S.

Employers will continue to be confronted with different expiration dates for the I-129S, the I-94, and the L-1 visa stamp.  To ensure I-9 compliance, the I-94 should always be viewed as the controlling status document for purposes of employment eligibility.

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Photo of Laura Foote Reiff‡ Laura Foote Reiff‡

Laura Foote Reiff is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U.S. and foreign companies,

Laura Foote Reiff is the Co-Managing Shareholder of the Northern Virginia Office. She also Co-Chairs the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s International Employment, Immigration & Workforce Strategies group. Laura focuses her practice on business immigration laws and regulations affecting U.S. and foreign companies, as well as related employment compliance and legislative issues.

Laura advises corporations on a variety of compliance-related issues, particularly related to Form I-9 eligibility employment verification matters. Laura has been involved in audits and internal investigations and has successfully minimized monetary exposure as well as civil and criminal liabilities on behalf of her clients. She develops immigration compliance strategies and programs for both small and large companies. Laura performs I-9, H-1B and H-2B compliance inspections during routine internal reviews, while performing due diligence (in the context of a merger, acquisition or sale) or while defending a company against a government investigation.

Laura represents many businesses in creating, managing and using “Regional Centers” that can create indirect jobs toward the 10 new U.S. jobs whose creation can give rise to EB-5 permanent residence for investment. She coordinates this work with attorneys practicing in securities law compliance, with economists identifying “targeted employment areas” and projecting indirect job creation, and with licensed securities brokers coordinating offerings. She also represents individual investors in obtaining conditional permanent residence and in removing conditions from permanent residence.

Laura’s practice also consists of managing business immigration matters and providing immigration counsel to address the visa and work authorization needs of U.S. and global personnel including professionals, managers and executives, treaty investors/ traders, essential workers, persons of extraordinary ability, corporate trainees, and students. She is an immigration policy advocacy expert and works on immigration reform policies.