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How to apply for an L-2 Visa for Family of L-1 Visa Holders for the United States

On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the L-2 visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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For international employees who are transferred to the US on a temporary basis, being able to have their spouse and children join them is non-negotiable, especially given that intra-company transfers can often last for several years. For families, the United States has a great deal to offer including some of the best schools and universities in the world, safety and security, fantastic nature and scenery, and endless opportunities for leisure time. On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the L-2 visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process.

What is the L-2 visa for the United States?

Whereas the L-1 (ICT) visa is intended for international executives, managers, and employees with specialist knowledge to transfer from an overseas business to a branch or subsidiary of the same organisation in the US, the L-2 visa enables eligible family members (spouses and children under 21 years) to join them. The scheme is typically only open to direct dependant members of the family including spouses and children, not parents, grandparents, aunt, and uncles. The USCIS rules state, “The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by their spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 non-immigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee”.

Am I eligible for an L-2 visa for the United States?

To qualify for an L-2 visa as a family member of an L1-A or L1-B visa in the United States, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a spouse of an L1 visa holder
  • Be a child of an L1 visa holder – children must be unmarried, under the age of 21, and dependant on the main visa holder.
  • Other family members such as parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins are not able to apply for an L-2 visa to join an L-1 visa holder in the US.

If you are unsure if you are eligible for the L-2 visa, speak to an immigration attorney who will be able to advise you.

How do I apply for an L-2 visa?

The following documents need to be submitted for an L-2 visa:

  • Completed application for a non-immigrant status visa (DS-160) – this can be completed online
  • Passport for each applicant
  • Photograph for each applicant
  • Birth certificate of every applicant (under 14 years)
  • An original marriage certificates
  • A copy of the original L petition
  • A letter of confirmation from the primary L-1 Visa holder
  • A letter from the L-1 visa holder’s employer

Depending on your circumstances and application type, the USCIS may request additional evidence or documentation to support your case.

Where family members of an L-1 visa holder are already located in the United States and they need to change immigration status, Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Status should be completed and submitted to USCIS. An application fee will also need to be paid. It is possible for all eligible family members to change their status collectively when using this form.

It is advisable to ensure that all documents are provided in a timely manner to ensure that your application decision is not delayed.

Can my family work in the US on an L-2 visa?

Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the required fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work; this is referred to as ‘open market employment authorization’. USCIS states, “You will need to apply for an EAD if you are required to apply for permission to work; in other words, you need to request employment authorization, for example… You have a non-immigrant status that allows you to be in the United States but does not allow you to work in the United States without first seeking permission from USCIS (such as an F-1 or M-1 student)”.

If your application is successful, you will be given an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) And a social security number. EAD’s typically last for two years, hence you may need to further extend your permission to work before this expires.

To request work authorization, applicants are required to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

How long are L-2 visas granted for?

L-2 visa holders are permitted to stay in the US as long as their family member holds an L-1 visa. For this reason, L-2 visas are typically granted for the same duration as the L-1 visa held by the principal applicant.

L-1 visas are initially granted for up to three years; however, this can be extended up to a maximum of five years in two-year increments.

If you plan to stay in the US for longer than the time permitted, you may need to switch to a different visa type before your visa expires.

Reiss Edwards has the resources and expertise to assist with all aspects of US immigration. If you need assistance with your L-2 visa application for the US or any other immigration matter, contact our US immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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