Currently, when an L-1 Blanket Visa is approved by the U.S. Consulate, a five (5) year visa stamp is issued.  However, while the visa stamp (in the passport) is valid for a five-year period, the visa petition (I-129S) must be revalidated after three (3) years in order for the beneficiary and family to continue to use the visa and lawfully stay in the U.S.

At this juncture, we have information as of April 2, 2014 from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo that they will be revalidating visas, i.e, issuing a new visa stamp for persons having a visa stamp for five (5) years, when the initial period on the I-129S (normally three (3) years) is up.

The Customs and Border Control have not indicated a clear policy, so the only two avenues at this point available to renew the Blanket L-1 visa after the three (3) year period are:  (1) by filing an individual L-1 extension petition with USCIS, or (2) applying for a new Blanket L-1 visa stamp at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in Japan.  Although the U.S. Embassy is still issuing 5-year visa stamps, it would seem to be meaningless since after the first three (3) years, the visa stamp must be revalidated and the Embassy would issue a new visa stamp at that time.

We hope that we will receive clarification from the other government agencies to provide you with more options.  However, at this time, our recommendation is to either extend an L-1 status with USCIS or return to Japan to obtain a new Blanket L-1 visa stamp for an additional period of time.

David Sindell, Esq.
SW Law Group, P.C.