As you know, thousands of people move to the U.S. every year. Many come to the U.S. due to an intercompany transfer on an L visa. If you or your spouse is an L-1 visa holder, you may wonder what your family’s options are regarding moving to the U.S. So today we’re here to discuss how immediate family members of L-1 visa holders may enter and stay in the United States by obtaining L-2 visas.
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 about whether you will be allowed to join them, you should stop worrying now. As their spouse or unmarried child under 21 years old, you can join the L-1 visa holder as a dependent on an L-2 visa.
The L-2 visa is similar to the H-4 visa, which is for the dependents of those with H-1B visas. With an L-2 visa, you can study in the U.S., get a driver’s license, open a bank account, travel in and out of the US as long as your visa is valid, and have other benefits.
Your L-2 visa status is directly tied to the L-1 visa primary holder, meaning your visa validity, options of extension or renewal, and change of status depend on the L-1 primary visa holder. If the L-2 visa application is successful, spouses coming to the U.S. can immediately work.
How to Apply for the L-2 Visa?
If you are outside of the U.S. and are a spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of an L-1 visa holder and you want to apply for the L-2 visa, you need to:
⦁ Complete the DS-160 Online Non-immigrant Visa Application. This is the first step required to initiate the application process. Once you fill in all the information that the form asks for, you will receive a confirmation page. Make sure to print it out and keep it as you will need to show it during the visa interview at a later stage of the application process.
⦁ Pay the Application Fee. To complete and submit the DS-160 form, you will have to pay the application fee of $160. Sometimes you might also have to pay additional fees, depending on where you come from.
⦁ Schedule a visa interview at your home country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. It is an essential part of the application process. Without the interview, you will not be able to receive your visa and travel to the US.
⦁ Attend your visa interview. Once your biometrics are taken, you can attend your L-2 visa interview. The purpose is to verify whether the information you included in your application is genuine. The interview usually lasts no longer than 20 minutes.
If you meet the eligibility criteria and all the information you provided in the application is true, you can expect a positive outcome. In most cases, if your visa is approved, the consular officer will inform you about it right after the interview.
If you apply while inside the U.S., then you will file form I-539, submit your biometrics, and then receive your L-2 visa approval.
How Long is the L-2 Visa Valid For?
If your application for the L-2 visa is successful, your visa will be valid as long as your relative’s L-1 visa lasts. That means you can stay in the U.S. as long as the L-1 visa holder is permitted to be there. Once you receive your L-2 visa, you can leave and re-enter the U.S. as often as you want.
Generally, the L-1 visa is valid for up to three years with the possibility of getting additional extensions with a maximum of five or seven years. The maximum duration of the L-1 visa depends on the type of your relative’s employment. After that, the L-1 visa holder must leave the U.S. and spend at least one year outside the country before applying for a new L-1 visa. The same applies to L-2 visa holders.
What are the Requirements for the L-2 Visa?
The L-2 visa is designed for dependents of L-1 visa holders. Only those who’s relative is currently in the U.S. on the L-1 visa are eligible for the L-2 visa. Or the prospective L-1 and L-2 visa holders can apply at the same time at the embassy or consulate. To be eligible for the L-2 visa, one of the following statements must apply to you:
⦁ You are legally married to an L-1 visa holder
⦁ You are an unmarried child under 21 of an L-1 visa holder.
These are the main requirements for the L-2 visa. If you do not fall under either one of these categories, but you want to come to the U.S. to be with your loved one, you might consider applying for a different U.S. visa. For example, you could apply for the B-2 tourist visitor visa instead to visit the U.S. temporarily. If your application is successful, you will be able to come to the U.S. for holidays, but you will not be able to work there.
What Documents Need to be Included in the Application?
To be able to proceed with your L-2 visa application, you will have to submit the following documents:
⦁ A valid passport
⦁ An original marriage or birth certificate
⦁ A copy of your relative’s approved petition for the L-1 visa
If you fail to include these documents, your visa application might be delayed or even denied. If you are unsure what documents are required, seek advice from us at Direct U.S. Immigration. We will help you prepare your evidence, ensuring that your application is complete.
Can I Work on the L-2 Visa?
In the past, when you were granted the L-2 visa, you did not automatically receive the right to work in the U.S. However, now, your work authorization is automatic upon receiving the L-2 visa approval.
Can I Go From an L-2 Visa to Green Card?
Since you are bound directly to the L-1 visa holder, if the L-1 visa holder applies for a Green Card, you are also eligible to apply as his/her dependent. 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, 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 into the category and get your green card.
As I promised, here’s some bonus information that you may not know about:
A few tips when going through the L-2 visa process for dependents:
⦁ If you and your spouse/parent (L-1 visa holder) are filing together, it’s best to submit your applications simultaneously.
⦁ If your last name was changed after your marriage, make sure you provide proof of your name change if your passport still has your maiden name.
⦁ If married, you will need to provide your marriage certificate.
⦁ If you are a child, your birth certificate or adoption papers are sufficient.
⦁ After receiving your visa, be sure there are no errors in the name, DOB, validity period, etc.
⦁ L-2 status can be renewed/extended at the same time the primary L-1 visa holder renews theirs. Be aware that you can’t leave the U.S. and re-enter if you don’t have a valid visa.
⦁ It is important to remember that your time in the country while on an L-2 visa will not count against the 6-year maximum limit for H-1B professionals if you decide to switch to H-1B status.
I hope you found this video helpful. Subscribe if this content or information helps you in any way, comment below if you want me to talk about something in specific, and share this resource because you never know who needs answers to these questions. Additionally, if you have any specific questions about this video as they pertain to your unique circumstances, please schedule a consultation with us at the link below. I’ll see you in the next video.