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What is L2 Visa EAD and How to Apply for It
Many people move to the U.S. with their spouses on a dependent visa such as an L2 visa. Moving with your spouse to a foreign country can be challenging, especially if you have to build a new life and a new career. Can you even work in the U.S. on an L2 visa? Fortunately, the answer is yes, you can work in the U.S. on an L2 visa if you get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Below we take a look at everything you need to know about an L2 EAD and how it can enable you to build a great career in the U.S.
What is L2 EAD?
If you aren’t a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you need to get special permission and authorization before you will be allowed to work in the U.S. This is also only allowed for certain types of visas. The good news is L2 visa holders can apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and, if approved, will be allowed to work in the U.S. So essentially an L2 EAD gives L2 visa holders the right to work in the U.S.
Who Can Apply for L2 Visa EAD?
Eligibility for an L2 EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is based on your immigration status and relationship to the primary L1 visa holder. To be eligible for an L2 EAD, you must meet the following criteria:
- Marriage to an L1 Visa Holder: You must be legally married to the primary L1 visa holder. The L1 visa holder is typically an intracompany transferee who is employed by a U.S. company or an affiliated foreign company and has been granted L1 status.
- L2 Visa Status: You should be in the United States under L2 visa status. The L2 visa is a dependent visa that is issued to spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of L1 visa holders. You must maintain your L2 status throughout the EAD application process.
- Approval of Form I-765: You must have an EAD application, also known as Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application is submitted to USCIS along with the required supporting documents.
It’s important to note that the L2 EAD is tied to your L2 dependent status. If your L2 status expires or is terminated for any reason, your EAD authorization will also be affected. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain your L2 status while holding an L2 EAD.
Additionally, eligibility requirements and application processes may change over time, so it’s advisable to check the USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date information and guidance specific to your situation.
L2 EAD Process: How to Apply for L2 EAD
Applying for an L2 visa Employment Authorization Document (EAD) can be a significant step for spouses of L1 visa holders who want to work legally in the United States. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for an L2 visa EAD:
1. Determine Your Eligibility
Before applying for an L2 EAD, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria:
- You must be legally married to the primary L1 visa holder.
- You should be in the United States under L2 status.
- Your EAD application (Form I-765) must be approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
2. Gather Required Documents
Collect all the necessary documents to support your application. These typically include:
- Form I-765: This is the Application for Employment Authorization. You can download it from the USCIS website.
- Two passport-sized photos: Follow the USCIS photo requirements.
- A copy of your L2 visa approval notice or the primary L1 visa holder’s approval notice.
- Copies of any previously issued EAD cards, if applicable.
- Proof of your marital relationship, such as your marriage certificate.
- A copy of your passport identification pages and your most recent visa stamp.
- Proof of your L2 status, which can include a copy of your I-94 arrival/departure record and the primary L1 visa holder’s I-797 approval notice.
- A check or money order for the application fee (check the USCIS website for the current fee).
3. Complete Form I-765
Fill out Form I-765 carefully and accurately. The form will ask for information about your identity, your immigration status, and your eligibility category. Ensure you select the correct eligibility category, which is usually “L-2” for spouses of L1 visa holders.
4. Pay the Application Fee
Check the USCIS website for the current fee amount and payment instructions. Make sure to include the correct fee along with your application.
5. Assemble Your Application Packet
Organize your application packet with all the required documents. Place your completed Form I-765 on top.
6. Check Processing Times
It’s a good idea to check the USCIS website for current processing times for EAD applications. This will give you an idea of when you can expect to receive your EAD card.
7. Mail Your Application
Send your application packet via postal mail to the appropriate USCIS mailing address. The address you use will depend on your state of residence. You can find the correct address on the USCIS website.
8. Receive a Receipt Notice
After USCIS receives your application, they will send you a receipt notice (Form I-797C). This notice confirms that they have received your application and provides a receipt number that you can use to track your application’s status.
9. Attend Biometrics Appointment (if required)
USCIS may require you to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photograph, and signature. If so, you’ll receive a notice with the appointment details.
10. Wait for Approval
USCIS will review your application, conduct background checks, and process your request. Once approved, you’ll receive your EAD card by mail.
Remember that processing times can vary, so it’s essential to apply well in advance if you have specific employment start dates in mind. Keep copies of all documents and correspondence related to your EAD application for your records. Once you have your EAD, you can legally seek employment in the United States and start pursuing your career goals.
L2 EAD Documents Checklist
It is very important that you provide all the information and documents required for your L2 EAD application. If you don’t, your EAD might not get approved. Here are the documents you need to apply for your L2 EAD:
- Filing fee – $410 for the processing of your application
- Biometric services fee – $85 for your biometric screening appointment
- Form I-765 – This form is the actual application for the EAD
- L1 approval notice of the primary visa holder (Form I-797) – Include a copy of the document that approves your spouse’s L1 visa
- Copy of your passport
- Copy of your spouse’s I-94 – This document proves your spouse entered the U.S. legally
- Copy of your I-94 – This document proves your legal entry into the U.S.
- Two passport style photos of yourself
- Copy of your Social Security Number (SSN) – Only add this if you already own one
- Proof of your marriage – Include proof like your wedding certificate and a wedding album with photos containing both you and your spouse.
Where to Send Your L2 ED Application
When applying for your L2 EAD (Employment Authorization Document), it’s crucial to send your application to the correct mailing address based on the state you reside in. Here’s a list of addresses and the corresponding states:
For L2 spouses residing in the following states
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV; Puerto Rico; or US Virgin Islands (USVI), please mail your application to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: I-765 2501 S. State Hwy. 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
For L2 spouses residing in the following states
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NV, OH, OR, SD, UT, WA, WI, or WY, please mail your application to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Once you’ve mailed your application to the appropriate address, you’ll need to wait for the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to confirm that they have received it. They will send a Form I-797, which serves as a receipt of notice, to the address you’ve provided on your application.
If you ever find yourself in need of assistance with your L2 visa EAD application, consider seeking expert advice from an immigration attorney. Don’t let concerns about attorney fees or filing fees deter you, as you can explore options such as applying for a loan even if you are a visa holder. Your journey to obtaining your EAD and pursuing your career in the United States is within reach with the right guidance and resources.
L2 EAD Processing Time
The processing times for L2 EAD applications vary from one service center to the other. Generally, however, the L2 EAD processing time is between 60-90 days for the USCIS to reach a decision regarding your application. Once your application is approved, they will mail you the EAD card (it looks like a plastic credit card). If it turns out your application is unsuccessful for whatever reason, they will also notify you accordingly.
How Long is L2 EAD Valid for?
An EAD is normally valid for two years. The validity of your L2 EAD is, however, dependent on your L2 visa’s validity. Your visa gives you the right to be in the U.S. and your EAD was granted to you based on a valid visa. So, your L2 EAD is valid for a maximum of two years or until your L2 visa expires (whichever of the two scenarios happens first).
Also, remember the validity of your L2 visa is dependent on the validity of your spouse’s L1 visa. Your L2 visa will expire as soon as your spouse’s L1 visa expires (in turn causing your EAD to expire as well).
L2 EAD Renewal (L2 EAD Extension)
It can happen that your visa extends beyond your EAD’s validity. You must renew your EAD before it expires to avoid illegal employment. Renewing your L2 EAD requires the same process as a new application. Compile a new application following the steps above and submit it to the USCIS.
Remember to apply for your L2 EAD renewal long before your EAD expires to provide for any unforeseen delays in processing time. You can apply for your new L2 EAD about 4 months before your current one expires. This will allow you and the USCIS enough time to produce the new one before your current EAD expires.
- How to Change from an L1A Visa to a Green Card
- L2 Visa: The Complete Guide
- The Complete Guide to L1 Visa Interview Questions
- L1 Visa: Requirements, Processing, and L1 Visa to Green Card
- The Complete Guide to L1 Visa Renewal
You don’t have to take the backseat if you move to the U.S. with your spouse. You can build your own career with the help of an L2 EAD!
L2 Visa EAD Frequently Asked Questions
Below, you will find some common questions about L2 EAD and their answers.
What is an L2 EAD?
An L2 EAD, or Employment Authorization Document, is a work permit that allows spouses of L1 visa holders (L2 visa holders) to legally work in the United States.
Who is eligible for an L2 EAD?
To be eligible for an L2 EAD, you must be legally married to the primary L1 visa holder and be residing in the United States under L2 visa status.
How do I apply for an L2 EAD?
To apply for an L2 EAD, you need to complete Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), gather required supporting documents, and submit your application to USCIS. The application process is detailed in the USCIS website.
What documents are required for the L2 EAD application?
Required documents often include Form I-765, marriage certificate, proof of L2 status, passport copies, visa stamp copies, and passport-sized photos. Check the USCIS website for a complete list.
How long does it take to receive an L2 EAD after applying?
Processing times vary, but it typically takes several months to receive an L2 EAD. Check the USCIS website for current processing time estimates.
Can I work while my L2 EAD application is pending?
You can only work legally once you receive your EAD card. Working without an EAD while your application is pending may lead to immigration issues.
Can I apply for an L2 EAD renewal?
Yes, you can apply to renew your L2 EAD. It’s advisable to apply well in advance of your current EAD’s expiration date to avoid gaps in employment authorization.
Is there a limit on the number of hours I can work with an L2 EAD?
No, there are no restrictions on the number of hours you can work with an L2 EAD. You have full work authorization.
Can L2 EAD holders apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)?
Yes, once you have your EAD, you can apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if you need one for employment or other purposes.
Can L2 EAD holders change jobs?
Yes, you have the flexibility to change jobs while on an L2 EAD. You are not tied to a specific employer.
Can L2 EAD holders study in the United States?
Yes, you can study in the U.S. while on an L2 EAD, but the primary purpose of the EAD is for employment.
Can L2 EAD holders travel internationally?
Yes, you can travel internationally as an L2 EAD holder. Ensure you have the required documents, including a valid passport, visa, and EAD card, when reentering the U.S.
What should I do if my L2 EAD application is denied?
If your application is denied, USCIS will provide a reason for the denial. You may have the option to appeal the decision or reapply with additional documentation.
Can I apply for a loan or credit with an L2 EAD?
Yes, many financial institutions accept an L2 EAD as proof of employment eligibility when applying for loans or credit.
Can I apply for a Green Card (Lawful Permanent Resident status) with an L2 EAD?
An L2 EAD itself does not grant you Green Card status, but it may allow you to work and build a case for Green Card sponsorship by your employer or family member.