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The L2 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that allows certain family members of a L1A or L1B 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 L2 Visa?
In order to qualify for the L2 visa, an applicant must be married to, or the child of, a L1A or L1B visa applicant or holder. Children of a L1A or L1B visa holder must be under 21 years of age to qualify.
What is the Process to Apply for a L2 Visa?
The process for applying to receive a L2 visa works in tandem with the L1 visa application. The steps to apply for the L2 visa are described below:
Step One: Employer Files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
The employer of the L1A or L1B 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 L2 Applicant File Online Form DS-160
Once Form I-129 is approved, both the L1A or L1B employee who will be working for their employer in the United States and the L2 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 L2 visa holder is responsible for scheduling and appearing for his or her interview and biometrics appointment. Generally, both the L1 and L2 applicants can schedule their interview and biometric services appointment together since the L2 visa is dependent on the L1 visa.
Step Five: Attend Interview and Biometrics Appointment
L2 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 L1 applicant is seeking a visa, and the nature of the relationship between the L1 and L2 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 L1 and L2 applicants should compile certain documentation to bring with them to the interview.
In order to prove their relationship to the L1 visa applicant and their eligibility for the L2 visa, L2 visa applicants must bring the following documents to the interview:
- Valid passports for all L2 visa applicants;
- Passport-style photo of all L2 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 L2 spouses;
- Photographs from the marital ceremony for L2 spouses;
- Birth certificates for each L2 child;
- Completed Form DS-160 and confirmation page;
- Copy of of Form I-797;
- A copy of the L1 visa applicant’s passport;
- A copy of the L1 visa applicant’s petition approval notice from USCIS;
- The L1 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;
- 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: L2 Visa Applicants Already in the United States
L2 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.L2 visa holders who wish to extend their stay may also file Form I-539 for an extension. Extension are only available if the L1 visa holder is also extending their stay in the U.S.
In order to prove that the L2 visa applicant is seeking an L2 visa in connection to a L1 visa validly issued to their spouse or parent, the L2 visa applicant must bring to the interview the following documentation as evidence of the L1 visa holder/applicant’s eligibility:
Can L2 Visa Holders Attend School in the United States?
Yes. Both L2 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 L2 visa. A L2 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 L2 visa may attend school without obtaining a student (F) visa.
Can L2 Visa Holders Work in the United States?
Yes. Beginning in 2021, L2 visa holders are authorized to work in the United States “incident” to their L2 status. This means that L2 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 L2 and spouses and L2 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 L2 visa may qualify for an automatic extension of their existing Form I-766, also known as an Employment Authorization Document or EAD. Moreover, certain L2 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 L2 nonimmigrant status; and
- Have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as a L2 nonimmigrant.
The automatic extension of EAD will be valid until:
- The end date on the L2 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.”
L2 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 L2 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 L1 or L2 visa.
For how long is the L2 visa valid?
L2 visa holders generally may stay in the United States for the same length of time as the L1 visa holder.
If the L1 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 L1 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 L1 visa holder for an additional two years and until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.