So your spouse or parents just received an offer to move from their workplace in your home country to the company’s affiliates in the United States. They will apply for an L-1 visa, either as a manager or executive (L-1A visa) or as a knowledge professional (L-1B visa). If you are worried about whether you will be allowed to join them, then you should stop worrying now. You, as a spouse or unmarried child under 21 years of age, may join the L-1 visa holder as a dependent on an L-2 visa.
The L-2 visa is therefore a visa for dependents. It is similar to the H-4 visa, which is for dependents of those who have an H visa. With an L-2 dependent visa, you can study in the United States, get a driver’s license, open a bank account, travel in and out of the United States while your visa is valid, and other benefits.
Your L-2 visa status is directly tied to the primary L-1 visa holder. The validity of your visa, extension or renewal options, as well as change of status depend on the L-1 person.
What are the L-2 visa requirements?
To be eligible for the L-2 visa, there are only a few conditions you must meet. You must be the spouse or unmarried child under 21 years of age of the primary L-1 visa holder. Same-sex partners can also apply. Since the US government does not recognize multiple spouses, only one spouse can apply for this visa. Anyone related to the L-1 person, such as parents, is not eligible for an L-2 visa.
How to apply for the L-2 visa?
Applying for the L-2 visa is quite simple and follows similar patterns to all other dependent visas such as the H-4 visa. Dependents are advised to apply for the visa at the same time as the L-1 visa applicant, as it is much easier to prove their relationship. To apply for the L-2 visa, you need to follow these steps.
Fill out form DS-160
Form DS-160 is an online application form that applicants must submit to begin the process. The DS-160 requests personal information and the purpose of your visit to the United States. You must fill it with true and complete information. Finally, the form will generate a confirmation page and code that you’ll need to save for later.
Pay the registration fee
The L-2 visa application fee is $160. You must pay this fee in order for your application to be considered by the US Embassy. Additionally, you may also be required to submit other fees depending on your home country and their relationship to the United States, such as visa reciprocity fees. You should keep all receipts for paid fees as proof.
Schedule your visa appointment
Visa interviews for US visa applicants are required for those over the age of 13 and under the age of 79. If you belong to this group, you need to make an appointment. You should try to schedule it as soon as possible, as the US Embassy may have a heavy workload and you may have to wait for your appointment. When you schedule this appointment, you will receive a visa appointment letter, which you will need later in the application process.
Submit your L-2 visa documents
Additionally, you will need to fill out a file with the necessary documents. The file should contain these documents:
- Your valid passport with more than 6 months of visa expiry
- A photograph that meets US visa photography requirements
- Your fee payment receipts
- Your appointment confirmation letter
- Your DS-160 confirmation page
- L-1 visa holder’s copies of Form I-129 (Form I-129S for Global Petitions L) and Form I-797
- Copy of person’s passport L-1
- Copy of the person’s L-1 visa
- Letter from the L-1 visa holder’s employer explaining the job description
- Letters from previous employers of the L-1 visa holder
- Proof of kinship
- For children, submit birth certificates
- For spouses, present authentic proof of marriage such as:
- Original marriage certificate
- Wedding album
- Invitation and location of the wedding
- Wedding receipts
- Honeymoon details
- Marriage registry photos and documents
If the L-1 visa holder is already in the United States, submit pay stubs
Attend the visa interview:
The visa interview is the last step in the L-2 visa application process. You will need to show up at the US Embassy where you made your appointment, on time and with your documents. The L-2 visa interview questions will include questions regarding any prior stays or visits to the United States, your relationship with the L-1 visa holder, and your intentions or purpose for coming to the United States.
Most L-2 visa applications are not rejected; however, valid reasons for L-2 visa denial include that the US embassy official believes that you will be going to the US to support your spouse who is already there, perhaps under fake employment contracts. So state the facts and try to provide as many details as possible. After the interview, you will wait for processing times and receive the response from the US Embassy.
What is the L-2 visa processing time?
After submitting your documents and following all the application steps, you will need to wait for your visa to be processed. Processing L-2 visas takes 15 days to 1 month; however, depending on the Embassy’s workload and other factors, it may take longer.
How long does the L-2 visa last?
The L-2 visa is a dependent visa, which means it is directly linked to the L-1 visa. Therefore, as an L-2 employee, your visa is valid as long as the L-1 visa holder (your spouse or parents) is valid. If the L-1 visa is extended, the L-2 dependent is also eligible for the extension. You may request extensions by submitting Form I-539, Application for Extension or Modification of Nonimmigrant Status to USCIS for this purpose. Most often, if the L-1 visa has been extended, the L-2 visa will also be extended.
If you are the spouse or child of an L-1A visa holder, you can stay in the United States for 7 years. If you are the spouse or child of an L-1B visa holder, you are eligible to remain in the United States for 5 years. When the person’s L-1 visa expires, you on an L-2 visa are also required to return to your home country and cannot remain in the United States if the person on the L-1 visa is not permitted to remain.
Can I work with the L-2 visa?
The advantage of the L-2 visa for dependents is that they can perform a variety of activities. With an L-2 visa you can get a degree and study in the United States, but the most beneficial activity is that you are allowed to work. Children of L-1 visa holders are not eligible to work, but spouses are.
To work under this type of visa, you must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You can apply for this document as soon as you arrive in the United States. This document allows you to find work in any sector of the economy, as long as the work is legal and there is a job offer for you.
You can work part-time or full-time, so the EAD doesn’t limit you on that front. Additionally, you do not necessarily need a job offer to apply for the EAD. You can get the EAD and choose not to start a job right away, but want to maintain the ability to work in the future. Once you get the EAD, it will be valid for two years and you can extend it as many times as you want, as long as your L-2 visa is valid.
To apply for the EAD, you must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with a copy of Form I-94 and two photographs. You will collect your documents and send them to USCIS. USCIS will track the L-2 Visa EAD processing time of 90 days and may deny, approve, or ask for additional evidence. In case they require additional evidence, they will specify the type of documents they need and you will have to submit them within the specified deadlines.
If your EAD is approved, you can apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), as it is a document required by most, if not all, employers in the United States.
Can I change my status to an L-2 visa?
Since L-2 is a dependent visa, it is difficult to change your status from this visa to another type. However, it is not impossible. If you are eligible for an L-1 visa, you can apply separately and get it. Additionally, if you can convince an employer to sponsor you, you may be eligible to apply for an H-1B visa.
If your spouse or parent changes her status to a different visa, such as an H-1B visa, you must also change your status to an H-4 dependents visa.
Can I switch from the L-2 visa to the Green Card?
Since you are tied directly to the L-1 visa holder, if this person applies for a green card, you can also apply. Because L visas are dual-intent visas, you do not need to present proof of intent to return home or demonstrate strong ties to your home country.
If your spouse or parent applies for an employment-based green card, then you can join them and must submit the relevant documents. If the L-1 visa holder’s green card is approved, you, as a family, also fall into the category and will receive your green card.