What is an L2 visa?
The L2 visa keeps families together when one member has to travel to the U.S. for work.
An L2 visa allows an L1 visa holder’s dependent spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to enter the United States. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is only valid as long as the L1 Visa is valid.
L1 Visa holders are foreign workers in the U.S. There are two types of L1 Visa: the L1A Visa and L1B Visa.
The L1A Visa is for those working in an eligible management or executive job. Applicants must be able to show that they meet the requirements of the job role as set out in the U.S. immigration rules. The L1A Visa is issued for three years and can be extended for up to seven years.
The L1B Visa is for ‘specialized knowledge staff’, which means those with skills and knowledge of the business’s products, systems, proprietary techniques, processes procedures, or its management. The L1B Visa lasts for three years and can be extended for up to five years.
The L1 Visa cannot be used to obtain a Green Card. It is however worth noting that the requirements of the L1A Visa are similar to the requirements for the EB1C Visa, which is an employment-based Green Card. Get in touch if you’re not sure of the best U.S. visa route for your situation.
L2 Visa requirements
The L2 Visa is for the dependents of L1 Visa holders, who are foreign specialized workers employed in a branch of their company in the United States.
If the L1 Visa holder opts for a different visa, the L2 Visa holder must also do the same based on their category of visa.
So if your spouse or parent is currently working in the U.S. under the L1 Visa, you can apply for an L2 Visa.
The only family members eligible to apply are immediate ones such as spouses and children. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents etc. are not eligible to apply for the L2 Visa.
So in simple terms, you must fit into one of these categories to apply for the L2 Visa:
- You are the spouse of an L1 Visa holder
- You are the unmarried child under the age of 21 of an L1 Visa holder
If you do not fall into one of those categories, you may still enter the U.S. to visit your family under a different U.S. visa. For example, you can apply for a B2 Tourist Visa. Get in touch to find out the best route to submitting a U.S. visa application.
L2 Visa required documents
An L2 Visa can be submitted together with the L1 Visa petition, or you can file it at a later date.
At whatever stage you submit the L2 Visa application, you will need to gather together certain documents to support your application and prove your eligibility.
L2 required documents
- Completed Form DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application
- Your valid passport
- Valid passport for each of your children and/or spouse, if they are travelling with you.
- One photograph of each applicant, which must adhere to the photograph guidelines issued by your local U.S. consulate.
- An original birth certificate for every applicant under the age of 14
- An original marriage certificate (if you are the dependent spouse of an L visa holder)
- A copy of the approved L petition, if available at this stage
- A letter from the L1 visa holder’s employer
- A confirmation letter from the L1 visa holder
Depending on your circumstances, you may be asked by the USCIS to submit further documentation or information.
All necessary documents should be gathered and submitted promptly, as missing documents are one of the most common reasons for a U.S. visa application to be rejected.
How can I work under an L2 Visa?
The L2 Visa allows spouses to work, but not the children.
In the U.S. an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) must be obtained before you can seek employment, so this must be applied for. This is an L2 visa work permit. Note that an EAD is only valid for two years but it can be extended as many times as you wish, as long as your L2 visa is valid.
If your EAD is approved, you need to then apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), which is a document that is requested by U.S. employers.
With an EAD and an SSN, you will be able to apply for part-time or full-time jobs at any U.S. company. This is referred to as ‘open market employment authorization’ by the USCIS.
How long does the L2 Visa last?
You can stay in the U.S. for as long as the main L1 Visa holder (your parent or spouse) holds a valid visa. In other words, your L2 Visa will last for the same duration as the L1 Visa holder’s L1 Visa lasts. In general, an L1 Visa is valid for up to three years.
Can the L2 Visa be extended?
The L2 Visa can be extended if the L1 Visa is extended, and in most cases, an L1 Visa extension will lead to an L2 Visa extension.
The length of time an L2 Visa can be extended for is determined by the time an L1 can be extended for, which depends on the type of L Visa it is. The L1 extension time is a maximum of five or seven years.
Note that when the L1 Visa expires, the L2 Visa holder has to return to their home country as well.
In order to apply for a new visa, you need to spend at least 12 months outside the U.S., which is the same for both L1 and L2 visas.
If you wish to continue your time in the U.S., you might be able to follow another visa route while your current L2 Visa is still valid.
Can I switch to a new visa?
Yes, in general you can switch from the L2 Visa to another visa category. Depending on your circumstances and wishes, you could switch to the F1 Student Visa, H4 Work Visa, or even the L1 Visa if you meet the requirements.
Another route forward that may suit your circumstances is that if you have an EAD and are working for a company, you could request your employer to sponsor you for the H1B Visa.
Note that if your L1 Visa holder changes their visa category while you are staying in the U.S., your immigration status will also change. As an example, if your L1 relative switches from an L1 to an H1 Visa, you can also switch from the L2 to the H2 Visa.
However, in such a case, note that an EAD issued under the L2 Visa status will cease to be valid once you switch to a different visa, and you will need to apply for a new EAD.
How can Total Law help me?
Total Law is a law firm specialising in global immigration law across the U.S., Canada, UK and Ireland. Our services range from family, work, study and tourist visa applications to citizenship, asylum and corporate immigration services.
With our expertise, we can work with you to prepare a comprehensive L2 Visa application (or any other U.S. visa application) so that you have the best chance possible of being granted your visa.
In order to submit a successful U.S. visa application, it’s vital to provide all the necessary documentation, as commissions can cause delays.
You will be paired with one of our experienced immigration lawyers, who will:
- Review your situation
- Make sure you are eligible
- Prepare a Letter of Representation to emphasize the merits of your visa application
- Liaise with USCIS throughout the visa application process
- Liaise with your L1 Visa holder as needed
- Provide regular updates throughout the entire L2 application process
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
An L2 Visa provides several benefits, including the ability to be able to:
- Attend school in the U.S.
- Work part-time or full-time (after you have obtained an EAD)
- Open a bank account
- Switch to another non-immigrant visa
- Apply for an immigrant permit (Green Card)
- Leave and re-enter the U.S. freely
If you want to apply for U.S. citizenship, you will need to change your immigration status and apply for a different visa once in the country.
After submitting your application and all required documents, the average time to get a decision about your L2 Visa is about 30 days.
No, the L1 Visa holder (dependent) is only allowed to stay in the U.S. as long as the L1 Visa holder maintains their L1 status. However, you could switch to another visa type.
Yes, spouses on an L2 Visa can work after they receive their EAD, Work can be in any job role or in self-employment.
However, note that it can take months to have your EAD approved.
An L2 EAD lasts for 2 years but it can be renewed as many times as you wish, as long as you hold L2 Visa status.