The dependents of L-1 visa holders, including spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years old), are eligible to accompany their relative on an L-2 visa. If you file your petition and it is approved, your period of stay will be valid for the same duration as the L-1 visa holder. There are many benefits of this non-immigrant status as we’ll explore in this post on the L-2 visa process for dependents.
How the L-2 Visa Process Works
Just like many other dependent visa categories, the L-2 visa has a straightforward application process. It’s often best that spouses and children, L-2 beneficiaries, process their visas at the same time as the L-1 applicant. The process will likely be easier as there will be fewer hurdles in proving that a genuine family relationship exists between you. The following are steps to applying for an L-2 visa:
Complete the DS-160 Online Application
The DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. It is the first step to getting your application process started. The form must be completed, filling in the required information for each stage. Once you finish filling out the form, you will be given a confirmation page. Print out the page and keep it, as the barcode on it will later be needed to book your visa interview. You will need to bring the confirmation printout of the completed application to your interview.
Pay the Application Fee
You will need to complete your DS-160 with an application fee. The basic application fee is $160, and there may be additional charges depending on your country of origin.
Schedule Visa Appointments: Interview and Biometrics
You will need to book two visa appointments—one for biometrics and the other for the interview.
Almost all L-2 visa applicants will have a visa interview with a consular officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Some of the only exceptions are dependents who are under 13 years of age.
You will be given a date for your visa interview at the embassy or consulate. Because the interview is one of the most crucial aspects of your application process, you should try to book a date as early as possible. This will help you avoid delays in your travel plans. Remember, you cannot travel to the U.S. without first attending the interview and having an approved valid visa.
Submit L2 Visa Documents
In order to qualify and proceed with the L-2 visa application process, you will need to submit some or all of the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Passport-style photo. See the Department of State’s guidelines surrounding passport photos.
- Original marriage certificate
- Marriage photographs of both you and your husband/wife
- Wedding photos
- For children, you will need the original birth certificate for each dependent
- Written approval of the primary L-1 holder (parent or spouse)
- Your academic qualification certificates, according to what you entered in your DS-160
- Your spouse’s (L-1 holder’s) employment verification letter
- Copy of your L-1 spouse’s I-194 (if already in the U.S.)
- Copy of your L-1 spouse’s petition approval notice issued by the USCIS
- Some copies of L-1 spouse’s salary payslips (if he or she is already working in the U.S.)
- Copy of L-1 spouse’s current tax returns (if any)
- L-1 holder’s I-797 form
- Visa application fee
- Visas issuance fee
Attend the Biometrics Appointment
You will need to attend a biometrics appointment at the Visa Application Center. This appointment involves the collection of your fingerprints, photos, and other information needed by the immigration officials. This must be done before your interview and you cannot have both your biometrics and interview fixed on the same date.
Attend the L-2 Visa Interview
Once you have completed the above processes, the next and final visa appointment is to attend an L-2 visa interview, which usually lasts between 15 to 20 minutes. The purpose of the interview is to establish that all the claims made in your application are genuine. During this interview, you will be asked some general and personal questions to determine your eligibility. The questions are mainly to verify if a genuine husband-wife or parent-child relationship exists between you and the L-1 visa holder. Ensure you answer all the questions truthfully, as dishonesty will not only lose you the visa, but it may also result in a temporary or even permanent barring from entry into the U.S.
All things being equal, you should be granted a visa, as long as you meet all the criteria. If your visa is approved, the consular officer may let you know immediately. The embassy will need to hold on to your passport after the interview and you will be told when you will receive the passport containing the valid L-2 visa, which you will use to travel to the United States. The wait time between your interview and when you will receive your visa is usually within 10 business days. Once you receive your visa, you can begin plans to travel to the U.S.
Who is Ineligible for the L2 Visa?
Are you an L1 visa holder wondering if your parents are eligible for the L2 visa? Unfortunately, they are not. It’s also important to mention that USCIS has the power to revoke an L2 application if they find information indicating that the L2 visa holder doesn’t have intentions of accompanying or staying with the principal L1 visa holder.
What If My Case L-2 Is Pending After the Interview?
Not all visa applicants receive a decision during their interviews. In some cases, the consular officer may need more time to further review your case before making a decision on it. This is generally referred to as “pending for administrative processing.” In this case, you may be required to provide additional information. If your case is subject to administrative processing after the interview, you will be told what to do. And if additional information is requested, be sure to provide the required items before the deadline given to you.
L-2 Visa Validity Period
Because the L-2 is a dependent visa, the validity will be the same as that of an L-1 family member. You can remain in the U.S. for as long as your L-1 spouse or parent has a valid status. The initial period of stay for L-1 visa holders is three years with the option to extend the stay until the total validity has been reached. If your spouse or parent is an L-1A holder, you will be able to stay in the U.S for a total of seven years on an L-2 visa. For L-1B dependents, the maximum is five years.
L-2 Visa Processing Time
On average, the L-2 visa processing time takes about 30 days after completing the application appointments and submitting the required documents. Although this may vary from case to case, it is ideal to contact a qualified attorney to get the most accurate answer.
Important 2022 Update for L Spouses & Children
A new admission code was made public and noted in a November 2021 policy change from USCIS. In a nutshell it asserts that L-dependent spouses receive automatic work authorizations as part of their status and are not required to go through the process of obtaining an employment authorization document.
Since the November 2021 announcement, the Department of Homeland Security added new Class of Admission (COA) codes to distinguish between E and L spouses and children. As of Jan. 30, 2022, USCIS and CBP began issuing Forms I-94 with the following new COA codes for certain E and L spouses: E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S. An unexpired Form I-94 reflecting one of these new codes is acceptable as evidence of employment authorization for spouses under List C of Form I-9.
All I-94 travel records (given to foreign nationals to document their arrival into the country as well as the permitted length of stay) that are issued on or after January 31 now include the new L-2S annotation which serves as proof of employment authorization in the I-9 verification process. As an L-2 visa holder you can present this notice and your valid I-94 for work authorization. If your I-94 record has an “S” class of admission, you can show your I-94 as a List c employment authorization document. For those who choose to show the I-94 with the new L-2S annotation, also sure to have a form of I.D with you to finish the I-9 process.
Suggested Article: What is Class of Admission?
As the spouse of an L visa holder (over 21 years old )with an unexpired Form I-94 issued before January 30, 2022 you should have been mailed a notice by USCIS around April 1, 2022. Use this notice along with your unexpired Form I-94 (showing E-1, E-2, E-3, #-3D, E-3R, or L-2 status) as evidence of your work authorization. Didn’t receive your notice? Email your request to [email protected]
Note: USCIS will only send notices to individuals identified as qualifying spouses based on a Form I-539 approved by USCIS. Individuals who received Form I-94 from CBP should visit www.cbp.gov.
Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
A significant advantage of L-2 status is the ability to work by obtaining employment authorization documents (EAD). The L-2 visa process for an EAD card involves filing the appropriate documents with USCIS. See 2022 update above.
From there, after obtaining your EAD card you’ll need to go to the Social Security Office to get your SSN.
What’s great, is you are not restricted about where you can work. The EAD allows you to work for any business in the U.S. on a full or part-time basis. Many refer to this an open market employment authorization. EAD documents should be issued 90 days from filing, though that wait time varies greatly on the service center chosen.
The EAD for L-2 dependents and spouses is issued for 2 years at a time and can be renewed provided that the individual maintains valid status. You have the option to file your EAD application by itself or at the same time as your application to extend or change your status (Form I-539).
Planning on applying for an EAD after completing the L-2 visa process for yourself? It’s best to contact an immigration attorney to learn the fastest route for your case and to make sure that all documents are filed correctly to avoid denials or unnecessary delays.
L2 Visa Change of Status/ L2 Visa Extension
L-2 visa holders can change their status to B-1, B-2, H-1 or H-4, assuming they meet the eligibility requirements for each. In order to request a change of status or extension of stay under L-2 status, while in the U.S., the relatives may apply together on Form I-539 Application to change or extend nonimmigrant status. Keep in mind that the validity period for the L2 visa is dependent on the primary L1 visa holder so you are only able to extend your L2 if you have been residing in the U.S and the extensions correlate to the validity period of the L1 visa (typically in increments of 2 years).
Will I lose my status if my case is pending with USCIS? You will not if it’s pending or until 240 days have passed.
What does it mean if my case is held under Section 221(g)?
What this basically means is that USCIS needs more time to administer processes and may request additional information from you. Submit the requested information to the appropriate consular office and discuss the next steps with your immigration lawyer.
Do I keep L2 status if my spouse changes their visa?
Since L2 is dependent on the L1 visa holder, your status would change based on your spouse’s new visa.
L-2 Visa Denials
In most cases, an L-2 visa is granted if the L-1 worker and his/her dependents meet the requirements. Based on USCIS regulations, the parents of L-1 holders are not considered dependents (for L-2 dependent visas) even if the L-1 holder is their primary caretaker.
USCIS does, however, retain the right to revoke or deny a visa in the L-2 visa process if it is found that the purpose is not being used to accompany or remain with the principal L-1 worker. Work alongside your immigration attorney to make sure that all necessary steps are taken to ensure a smooth process.
L-2 Visa Privileges
The L-2 visa status comes with a number of advantages including the ability to:
- Live legally in the U.S. on a temporary basis.
- Attend school or study full-time in the U.S.
- Work part-time or full-time once approved for an EAD
- Transfer to another non-immigrant status like F-1, B-1/B-2, H-1, and L-1
- Ability to travel in and out of the U.S. on brief international trips.
L-2 to Green card
One of the biggest advantages of the L class visas is the fact that they are considered to be “dual intent”, meaning that while under L status, you can apply for your green card without affecting your current nonimmigrant status. This is in contrast to some other work visas such as the TN or J-1 visas, which would be jeopardized if the holder attempted to obtain his or her green card.
L-2 Application Tips
A few tips when going through the L-2 visa process for dependents:
- If you and your spouse (L-1 visa holder) are both filing together, it’s best to submit your applications simultaneously.
- If your last name was changed after your marriage, endorse the change in your passport first otherwise you’ll need to use your maiden name in the U.S.
- Double check that you have enough wedding photographs showing both you and your spouse. These are necessary for demonstrating a bona fide marriage.
- After receiving your visa, be sure there are no errors in the name, DOB, validity date, 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.
L-2 Visa Renewal
As an L-2 holder, you will be able to renew or extend your visa when your L-1 spouse of parent does so. To do this, you can either file for an extension of status from inside the U.S. or you can travel to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy to apply for a new visa there.
However, this second option may require you to remain outside the U.S. for several weeks until your visa is processed. Consult your immigration attorney to learn which route is the most appropriate for your situation.
L-2 Visa Fees
On top of the requisite fees for the obligatory L-1 visa, here are some of the L-2 visa fees and costs to expect when going through the application process:
- The DS-160 application has a filing fee of $160
- All nonimmigrants that enter the U.S. at a border crossing are subject to a border crossing fee of $160 if you are over 15 years old or $16 if you are under 15 years old. Speak with your immigration attorney to learn if this fee applies to you.
- Some additional costs may include:
- Attorney fees. See VisaNation Law Group’s flat immigration attorney fees.
- Travel costs
How L-2 Visa Attorneys Can Help
The attorneys at VisaNation Law Group can help you or your spouse file an L-1 visa petition along with any L-2 visas accompanying it. With hundreds of successful approvals, they have the knowledge and expertise to get your case rolling.
Contacting one of their highly experienced attorneys is easy. Just take a moment to fill out this contact form to schedule a comprehensive consultation for your case.