So your spouse or your parent has just gotten an offer to transfer from their workplace in your home country, to the company’s affiliates in the U.S. They will be applying for an L-1 visa, either as a manager or executive (L-1A visa) or as a specialized knowledge professional (L-1B visa). If you are worried whether you will be allowed to join them, then you should stop worrying now. You as their spouse or unmarried child under 21 years old can join the L-1 visa holder as a dependent on an L-2 visa.
The L-2 visa is thus a dependents visa. It is similar to the H-4 visa, which is for the dependents of those who have H type visas. With an L-2 dependents visa, you are allowed to study in the U.S, get a driver’s license, open a bank account, travel in and out of the U.S as long as your visa is valid and other benefits.
Your L-2 visa status is directly tied to the L-1 visa primary holder. Your visa validity, options of extension or renewal, as well as change of status depend on the L-1 person.
What are the requirements of the L-2 visa?
To be eligible for the L-2 visa, there are only a few conditions which you must meet. You must either be the spouse or the unmarried child under 21 years old of the primary L-1 visa holder. Same sex partners are also eligible to apply. Since the U.S government does not recognize multiple spouses, only one spouse may apply for this visa. Anyone else who is related to the L-1 person, such as parents are not eligible for an L-2 visa.
How to apply for the L-2 visa?
The L-2 visa application is quite straightforward, and follows similar patterns to all other dependent visas such as the H-4 visa. It is recommended that dependents apply for their visa at the same time as the L-1 visa applicant, since it is much easier to prove their relationship. To apply for the L-2 visa, you must follow these steps.
Fill in the DS-160 form
The DS-160 form is an online application form which applicants must submit in order to have their process started. The DS-160 requires personal information and the purpose of your visit to the U.S. You must fill it with truthful and complete information. At the end, the form will generate a confirmation page and code which you will need to save for later.
Pay the application fee
The application fee for the L-2 visa is $160. You must pay this fee for the application to be considered by the U.S Embassy. In addition, you might also be required to submit other fees depending on your home country and their relationship with the U.S, such as visa reciprocity fees. You should keep all receipts of the fees you pay as proof.
Schedule your visa appointment
Visa interviews for U.S visa applicants are required for those who are over 13 and under 79 years old. If you belong to this group, then you must schedule an appointment. You should try to schedule it as soon as possible, since the U.S Embassy might have a heavy workload and you might have to wait for your appointment to come up. When you schedule this appointment, you will get a visa appointment letter, which you will need for later on in your application process.
Submit the L-2 visa documents
In addition, you will need to compile a file of the necessary documents. The file should have these documents:
- Your valid passport of more than 6 months from the expiration of your visa
- One photograph in compliance to the USA visa Photograph Requirements
- Your fee payment receipts
- Your appointment confirmation letter
- Your DS-160 confirmation page
- The L-1 visa holder’s copies of Form I-129 (Form I-129S for L blanket petitions) and Form I-797
- Copy of the L-1 person’s passport
- Copy of the L-1 person’s visa
- Letter from the employer of the L-1 visa holder explaining job description
- Letters from previous employers of the L-1 visa holder
- Proof of relationship
- For children, submit birth certificates
- For spouses submit genuine marriage proof such as:
- Original marriage certificate
- Wedding album
- Wedding invitation and venue
- Wedding receipts
- Honeymoon details
- Marriage registry photos and documents
- If the L-1 visa holder is already in the U.S, submit their pay slips
Attend the visa interview
The visa interview is the last step in the application process for the L-2 visa. You will need to show up at the U.S Embassy where you made the appointment, on time and with your documents. The L-2 visa interview questions will include questions regarding any previous stay or visit to the U.S, your relationship to the L-1 visa holder, and your intentions or purpose of going to the U.S.
Most L-2 visa applications are not rejected; however, valid L-2 visa rejection reasons include the official of the U.S Embassy believing that you are going to the U.S to support your spouse who is already there, maybe under false employment contracts. So state the facts and try to give as much detail as possible. After the interview, you will wait for the processing time and get the response from the U.S Embassy.
What is the L-2 visa processing time?
After you submit your documents and go through all the application steps, you will have to wait for your visa to be processed. L-2 visas take from 15 days to 1 month to be processed; however, depending on the Embassy’s workload and other factors, it might take longer.
How long is the L-2 visa valid?
The L-2 visa is a dependents visa, meaning that it is directly tied to the L-1 visa. So, as an L-2 dependent, your visa is valid for as long as the L-1 visa holder (your spouse or parents) is valid. If the L-1 visa is extended, then the L-2 dependent is also eligible for extensions. You can file for extensions by submitting Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change 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 are allowed to stay in the U.S for 7 years. If you are the spouse or child of an L-1B visa holder, you are then eligible to remain in the U.S for 5 years. When the visa of the L-1 person expires, you with an L-2 visa are also required to return to your home country and cannot remain in the U.S if the L-1 visa person is not allowed to stay.
Can I work with the L-2 visa?
The benefit of the L-2 visa for dependents is that they are allowed to engage in a range of activities. With an L-2 visa, you can get a degree and study in the U.S, but the most beneficial activity is that you are allowed to work. Children of L-1 visa holders do not qualify to work, but spouses do.
To be eligible to work with this type of visa, you must get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You are allowed to apply for this document as soon as you arrive in the U.S. This document allows you to find employment in any sector of the economy, as long as the job is legal and there is an offer for a position for you.
You can work part-time or full-time, so the EAD does not limit you in this front. In addition, you do not necessarily need a job offer to apply for the EAD. You can get the EAD and choose not to start employment immediately, but want to retain the possibility of working 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 need, as long as your L-2 visa is valid.
To apply for the EAD, you need to submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, together with a copy of your Form I-94 and two photographs. You will gather your documents and send them to USCIS. USCIS will go through the L-2 visa EAD processing time which is 90 days, and may either deny, approve, or ask for additional evidence. In case they ask for additional evidence, they will specify what kind of documents they need and you must submit them within the specified deadlines.
If your EAD is approved, then you can apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), since it is a document that most, if not all employers in the U.S will ask for.
Can I change my status on an L-2 visa?
Since L-2 is a dependents visa, it is difficult to change your status from this visa to another type. However, it is not impossible. If you qualify for an L-1 visa, you can apply separately and get it. In addition, if you can get an employer to sponsor you, you might be eligible to apply for an H-1B visa.
If your spouse or parent changes their status to a different visa, for example an H-1B visa, then you too must change your status to an H-4 dependents visa.
Can I go from an L-2 visa to Green Card?
Since you are bound directly to the L-1 visa holder, if this person applies for a Green Card, then you too are eligible to apply. Since the L visas are dual intent visas, you are not required to submit proof of intent to return home or prove strong ties to your home country.
If your spouse or parent applies for an employment based green card, then you are allowed to join them, and must submit the relevant documents. If the L-1 visa holder’s green card is approved, then you as their family, also fall in the category and get your green card.