If you are the spouse or child of an L-1A or L-1B visa holder, then you may be able to visit the United States on an L-2 visa. The L-2 visa is designed to keep families together, allowing dependents of an L-1 visa holder to accompany their spouse or parent to the United States.
How Does an L-2 Visa Work?
To qualify for an L-2 visa, you need to fall into one of the two following categories:
- Lawful spouse of an L-1A or L-1B visa holder
- Unmarried child under age 21 of an L-1A or L-1B visa holder
If you meet either of these two qualifications, then you may be eligible to join your family member in the United States under an L-2 dependency visa.
There are two types of L-1 visas your parent or spouse may be applying for:
- L-1A Visa: For managers and executives seeking an intra-company transfer to a U.S. office.
- L-1B Visa: For specialized employees seeking an intra-company transfer to a U.S. office.
If your spouse or parent works at a company overseas, and that company has an office in the United States, then your spouse or parent may be eligible for one of the two visas listed above. To be considered an “office”, the company must have a subsidiary, parent company, branch, or affiliate in the United States.
How to Apply for an L-2 Visa
Applying for an L-2 visa is straightforward. Your spouse or parent has already done most of the heavy lifting by receiving (or applying for) an L-1 visa.
Generally, it’s recommended that dependents seeking an L-2 visa apply for their visa at the same time as the L-1 visa applicant. It expedites the process and avoids confusion among immigration authorities.
Here are the steps you can take to apply for the L-2 visa:
Step 1) Complete Form DS-160: This form is required for all non-immigrant visas to the United States. The form asks basic personal information about yourself, your education, your employment history, and your background. Upon completion of the form, you’ll be asked to pay a fee before a confirmation page is generated.
Step 2) Pay the L-2 Visa Application Fee: The L-2 visa comes with a mandatory application fee of $160 USD. You will need to pay this fee to move forward with the application process.
Step 3) Schedule your L-2 Visa Appointment: Once you have paid your fee, you can schedule your appointment with a local U.S. embassy or consulate. The in-person appointment can be done individually or with your spouse or parent.
Step 4) Gather or Submit Required Documents: Certain documents are required to proceed with the L-2 visa application. You can bring these documents to the interview or submit them prior to your interview. Standard required documents for an L-2 visa include:
- A valid passport that expires more than 6 months beyond the expiry date of your visa
- A single photograph that abides by all U.S. visa photo requirements
- Receipts for all fee payments
- L-2 visa interview confirmation letter
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Documents from the L-1 visa holder, including form I-129 and form I-797, as well as form I-129S for L blanket petitions
- Copy of the L-1 visa holder’s passport and visa
- Letter from the L-1 visa holder’s employer explaining the position, salary, and job description
- References from previous coworkers, supervisors, and bosses of the L-1 visa holder
- Proof of your relationship to the L-1 visa holder, including a wedding certificate (for a spouse) or a birth certificate (for an unmarried child under age 21)
Step 5) Attend the Interview: Once you have collected the documents above, you can proceed with the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The L-2 interview may take place individually or with the L-1 visa applicant as well. In either case, the consular officer will ask various questions about the job position in the United States. The officer will also verify your connection to the L-1 visa applicant, along with all other information on your form.
How Long Does It Take to Process My L-2 Visa?
L-2 visas can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks to be processed. Generally, the visa will be processed in a similar length of time to the L-1 visa. Once your visa is approved, you can visit the United States with or after the L-1 visa holder, although you cannot visit the United States before the L-1 visa holder arrives.
How Long Does My L-2 Visa Last?
The L-2 visa typically lasts as long as the L-1 visa is granted. Most L-1 visas are granted for an initial period of 3 years.
If your spouse or parent is on an L-1A visa, then the visa can be extended twice for a two year period each, granting a total of up to 7 years in the United States.
If your spouse or parent is on an L-1B visa, then the visa can be extended once for a two year period, granting a total of up to 5 years in the United States.
Check your L-2 visa expiry date to ensure it lasts for the duration of your spouse or parent’s visa. If your spouse or parent chooses to file an extension request, then you can file an extension request as well.
What Can I Do With an L-2 Visa?
The L-2 visa allows visa holders to engage in a range of activities. You can pursue a degree in the United States, for example, and work.
Children of an L-1 visa holder are not permitted to work, however, although the spouse is permitted to work after receiving an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which you can apply for as soon as you arrive in the United States.
To apply for the EAD as an L-2 visa holder, you need to submit form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to USCIS. Upon approval of your EAD, you can apply for any full-time or part-time jobs in any sector.
Can I Change My Status or Get a Green Card with an L-2 Visa?
The L-2 is a dependent visa, which typically makes it difficult to change your status or apply for a green card. However, some L-2 visa holders do choose to change their status. You may be able to change your status to an H-1B visa if you qualify for a job, for example. Some L-2 visa holders apply for a job and receive an H-1B visa. This can lead to an employer-sponsored green card.
Alternatively, if your spouse or parent on the L-1 visa changes his or her immigration status, then you may be able to apply for a green card through that person. If that person receives an H-1B visa, for example, then you will be required to change your visa to an H-4 dependency visa.
By following the guide above, you can expedite the L-2 visa claims process.