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How to Get Work Authorization for the Dependents (L-2 Visa) of L-1 Visa Holders

In this article, we will explain how the spouse of an L-1 intra-company transfer visa holder in the United States can gain authorization to work. 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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With the projected growth of the US economy, currently expected to reach over $25 trillion in 2024, we expect to see a considerable increase in demand for skilled labour and intra-company transfer visas (referred to as an L-1 visa in the US). Intra-company transfers enable staff working for a multinational business to relocate to another country where their employer has a branch or subsidiary. Indeed, global workforce mobility through intracompany transfers is now a key means by which large organizations are able to redeploy existing experienced and specialist staff members where they are needed on a temporary basis. Given that intracompany transfers may last for years, having the ability for immediate family to join the visa holder on L-2 visa in the US is essential. And furthermore, for some family members of L-1 visa holders joining on L-2 visa, it is important to find work in the United States. In this article, we will explain how the spouse/dependents of an L-1 intra-company transfer visa holder in the United States can gain authorization to work through applying for the employment authorisation document (EAD).

What is the L-1 visa for the United States?

The L-1 Intra-company transfer (ICT) visa is issued to foreign executives, managers and employees with specialist knowledge of a multinational business who wish to work for a branch or subsidiary of their employer in the US. One of the main benefits of the ICT scheme is that global businesses can leverage existing skills and experience without hiring new staff. ICT visas are only issued on a temporary basis and are typically used to send staff to complete an assignment, such as setting up a new facility, rolling out new products and services, implementing new IT systems, and providing training. Most ICT transferees are allowed to stay in the US for up to three years, and this can be further extended in increments of two years to a maximum of five years overall. Given that an ICT visa holder may be in the US for up to five years, it is important that family members can join them and take up employment.

Can the Spouse/Dependent of an L-1 visa holder who is on an L-2 Visa work in the US?

The spouse/dependent of an L-1 visa holder who is on an L-2 visa cannot work in the US unless they have an L-2 EAD (Employment Authorization Document) i.e. apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and pay the required application fee.

How can the Spouse or Dependent of an L-1 visa holder apply for the L-2 EAD work authorization?

To gain permission to work on L-2 visa, as a spouse or dependent of an L-1 visa holder, one needs to complete and submit Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorisation). This form can be completed and filed by hard copy or online, the latter allowing you to check the progress of your application and upload any evidence required. The guidance states that applicants seeking work authorization need to submit the Form I-765 in addition to:

  • Evidence of their lawful L non-immigrant status (such as a Form I-94, passport, or other travel documents), and;
  • Evidence of their spouse’s lawful L non-immigrant status (such as a copy of their spouse’s Form I-94, passport, or other travel document), and;
  • The marriage certificate, or if not available, other secondary evidence of the marriage

The USCIS explains that once the I-765 is filed, they will issue:

  • Receipt notice confirming receipt of the application;
  • A biometric services notice, if applicable;
  • Notice to appear for an interview, if required; and
  • Notice of the decision.

You will also need to pay a filing fee of $410.

How can I ensure my application for Employment work authorization document has the best chance of being approved?

The USCIS provides several tips to ensure that your application is completed correctly, and it is not refused on an avoidable technicality; these include:

  • Remember to sign your form – USCIS reject unsigned forms
  • Use the most current form version
  • Complete all the questions asked
  • If handwriting your form, always use black ink
  • Do not use highlighters or correction fluid or tape – this is because the scanners used by USCIS may not read the information correctly if these are used.
  • If you make a mistake in your form, use a fresh form
  • Pay the correct fee. If this is incorrect in any way, the application is likely to be rejected
  • Send single-sided copies of the application(s).

Where should I file my I-765?

If you are sending a hard copy of your I-765 application form for consideration by USCIS, where you file will depend on when you live.

If you live in any of the following US states:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands

send your paperwork to:

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

USCIS

Attn: NFB

PO Box 21281

Phoenix, AZ 85036-1281

Or:

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS

Attn: NFB (Box 21281)

1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S

Suite 100

Phoenix, AZ 85034-4850

If you reside in:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia

send your application to:

USCIS Dallas Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

USCIS

Attn: NFB

PO Box 660867

Dallas, TX 75266-0867

Or

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS

Attn: NFB (Box 660867)

2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX 75067-8003

How US L-1 Visa Lawyers can help

Securing authorization to work that is an L-2 EAD visa in the US as the spouse of an L-1 visa holder can be particularly important if needed for extra income to support the family or to further the applicant’s career. If you need any help with your work authorization request, speak to an immigration lawyer or attorney who specializes in US immigration law. They will be able to explain the process for you, and where necessary, prepare and file the I-765 form on your behalf.

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