L-2 Visa

What is the L-2 Visa?

The L-2 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that allows certain family members of a L-1A or L-1B visa holder to accompany the L visa holder to the United States or to later meet the L visa holder in the United States.

Who Qualifies for the L-2 Visa?

In order to qualify for the L-2 visa, an applicant must be married to, or the child of, a L-1A or L-1B visa applicant or holder. Children of a L-1A or L-1B visa holder must be under 21 years of age to qualify.

What is the Process to Apply for a L-2 Visa?

The process for applying to receive a L-2 visa works in tandem with the L-1 visa application. The steps to apply for the L-2 visa are described below:

Step One: Employer Files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

The employer of the L-1A or L-1B visa applicant must first review the instructions for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and file Form I-129 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

When submitting the Form I-129, the employer must pay any applicable filing fee and provide all required evidence and supporting documentation.

Step Two: USCIS Processes Form I-129

After the USCIS receives and processes Form I-129, the employer will receive the following in return:

  • A receipt notice confirming the petition was received;
  • A notice to appear for an interview, if required;
  • A biometric services notice, if applicable; and
  • A notice of decision.

Step Three: Employee and L-2 Applicant File Online Form DS-160

Once Form I-129 is approved, both the L-1A or L-1B employee who will be working for their employer in the United States and the L-2 applicant must complete their own Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. Once Form DS-160 is submitted, the employee must download and print the confirmation page showing Form DS-160 was completed and the filing fee paid. The confirmation page will need to be brought to the visa interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.

Step Four: Schedule Interview and Biometrics Appointment

When Form I-129 is approved, the USCIS will send Form I-797, Notice of Action. This may include with it a notice to appear for an interview and a biometric services appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The employee and the L-2 visa holder is responsible for scheduling and appearing for his or her interview and biometrics appointment. Generally, both the L-1 and L-2 applicants can schedule their interview and biometric services appointment together since the L-2 visa is dependent on the L-1 visa.

Step Five: Attend Interview and Biometrics Appointment

L-2 visa applicants must attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate where an official will evaluate the applicant’s documentation and ask questions pertaining to why the L-1 applicant is seeking a visa, and the nature of the relationship between the L-1 and L-2 visa applicants.

The visa applicants may be able to schedule the biometrics appointment to take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate when the visa interview is scheduled. At the biometric services appointment, immigration officials will collect fingerprints, photos, and other information.

Before attending the interview, both the L-1 and L-2 applicants should compile certain documentation to bring with them to the interview.

In order to prove their relationship to the L-1 visa applicant and their eligibility for the L-2 visa, L-2 visa applicants must bring the following documents to the interview:

  • Valid passports for all L-2 visa applicants;
  • Passport-style photo of all L-2 visa applicants that conforms to the U.S. visa photo requirements;
  • Proof of payment of visa application fee;
  • Academic qualification certificates, corresponding to what was submitted on the DS-160;
  • Original marriage certificate for L-2 spouses;
  • Photographs from the marital ceremony for L-2 spouses;
  • Birth certificates for each L-2 child;

In order to prove that the L-2 visa applicant is seeking an L-2 visa in connection to a L-1 visa validly issued to their spouse or parent, the L-2 visa applicant must bring to the interview the following documentation as evidence of the L-1 visa holder/applicant’s eligibility:

  • Completed Form DS-160 and confirmation page;
  • Copy of of Form I-797;
  • A copy of the L-1 visa applicant’s passport;
  • A copy of the L-1 visa applicant’s petition approval notice from USCIS;
  • The L-1 visa applicant’s valid passport;
  • A photograph that conforms to U.S. visa photo requirements;
  • Receipts showing the applicant paid all fees;
  • The interview confirmation letter;
  • Evidence of employers status:
    • Proof of lease or property ownership for business location in U.S.;
    • Bank statements or wire transfer showing initial investment;
    • Income tax returns, if any;
    • Description of business;
    • Employer’s quarterly reports, if any;
    • Business licence;
    • Employer letterhead with company name, logo, and address;
    • Articles of incorporation;
    • Description of employee’s executive or managerial position within company;
    • Employer organizational chart, including total number of employees;
    • Income tax filings for past three years;
    • Audited accounting reports;
    • Company brochure, product description, and website information;
    • Transactional records;
  • Evidence of employee’s status:
    • Income tax records;
    • Payment statements (pay stubs, etc.);
    • Diploma and degrees;
    • Resume;
    • Employer organizational chart showing employee’s position within company;
    • Description of employee’s executive or managerial position and duties within company;
    • Letter from foreign employer verifying employee’s employment;
    • Letter of reference from supervisors, colleagues, etc.;
    • Documentation verifying or approving of the employee’s transfer to the U.S.;
    • Evidence of employee’s specialized knowledge, if applicable.

Step Six: L-2 Visa Applicants Already in the United States

L-2 visa applicants who are already in the United States may request to change their status by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Status. L-2 visa holders who wish to extend their stay may also file Form I-539 for an extension. Extension are only available if the L-1 visa holder is also extending their stay in the U.S.

Can L-2 Visa Holders Attend School in the United States?

Yes. Both L-2 visa holding spouses and children are eligible to attend part-time or full-time school in the United States at every level of education.

Individuals who plan to attend an undergraduate or graduate degree program should evaluate the length of the program against the remaining time of validity of their L-2 visa. A L-2 undergraduate or graduate student may need to change their status to a student (F) visa.

Minor children who are in the United States under a L-2 visa may attend school without obtaining a student (F) visa.

Can L-2 Visa Holders Work in the United States?

Yes. Beginning in 2021, L-2 visa holders are authorized to work in the United States “incident” to their L-2 status. This means that L-2 spouses are not required to request employment authorization by filing Form I-764, Application for Employment Authorization, but may still do so if they wish with a fee.

The United States Department of Homeland Security has promised to change the way Form I-94, Request Travel History and Check Travel Compliance looks so that L-2 and spouses and L-2 children are readily distinguishable on the face of the document, such that a spouse’s Form I-94 will be sufficient employment authorization on its own.

In conjunction with these changes, spouses who already hold an L-2 visa may qualify for an automatic extension of their existing Form I-766, also known as an Employment Authorization Document or EAD. Moreover, certain L-2 spouse may qualify for an automatic extension of their Form I-766 if they:

  • Timely file a renewal of Form I-765 based on the same L-2 nonimmigrant status; and
  • Have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as a L-2 nonimmigrant.

The automatic extension of EAD will be valid until:

  • The end date on the L-2 spouse’s Form I-94;
  • The date the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approve or deny the application to renew the EAD; OR
  • 180 days from the date on the front of the EAD indicated the “card expires.”

L-2 spouses who are eligible for the automatic EAD extension may present the following evidence to their employer so their employer can properly fill out Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification:

  • Form I-94 indicating the unexpired nonimmigrant status;
  • Form I-797C, indicating a timely-filed EAD renewal application; and
  • The expired EAD.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for the L-2 Visa?

The cost to file Form I-129 is $460. The cost to file DS-160 is $160. There may be additional charges for a visa issuance fee, depending on the applicant’s country of origin.

An additional $2,500 may be paid for premium processing, which will expedite the approval process for receiving the L-1 or L-2 visa.

For how long is the L-2 visa valid?

L-2 visa holders generally may stay in the United States for the same length of time as the L-1 visa holder.

If the L-1 visa holder is only coming to the United States to establish a new office, the initial maximum stay in the United States is one year.

If the L-1 visa holder is transferring to work at a United States affiliate office, the initial maximum stay in the United States is three years.

Extensions of stay may be granted for any L-1 visa holder for an additional two years and until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.

Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.