US Visa Reciprocity Rules

For employment in the US some individuals will receive visas that are valid for less than the period of approval from USCIS immigration. Also, some visa applicants will have to pay additional visa fees over the normal base visa application or MRV fee. This may be due to the visa reciprocity rules provided by the US Department of State. See : Visa Reciprocity By Country – Bureau of Consular Affairs

The basis for reciprocity is to grant to applicants of US visas the same fees and validity that is offered by that applicant’s nation of citizenship to US citizens seeking visas for admission to that country. Or in other words, what goes around comes around. Reciprocity applies to both the period of validity and the final visa fee to be paid.

For this reason, Mexican citizens receive only a 12 month working visa for the basic employment visa categories of H, L, O, P and R visas. Short term visas also impact nationals of countries like Belarus where recent history has resulted in strained international relations. In most employment based petitions, USCIS grants approvals for up to 3 years. Citizens from nations impacted by shorter term visa validity must renew their visas more often to accommodate travel with the applicable loss of time and money.

Another visa of some recent interest is the limitation of 12 months validity for visitors from China. The limited validity of 12 months applies to both B-1 business and B-2 tourist visa applications. R-1 religious worker visas for China are limited to 3 months as well. These are examples of reciprocity that appear to also be impacted by political factors.

A view of the visa reciprocity rules for a specific nation can be informative. Also, the same link can be reviewed for the availability of various documents or clearances required for immigrant visa applicants. For these reasons this link is a useful tool for many visa applicants.