L2 Visa: The Complete Guide

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: An L2 visa, also known as an L1 dependent visa, is granted to the spouses and dependents of L1 visa holders. It allows them to live in the US temporarily, study, apply for work authorization, change visa status, and travel. The validity of an L2 visa is linked to the validity of the L1 visa. Eligibility requires being a spouse or child under 21 of an L1 visa holder. The application process involves submitting required documents and attending a visa interview. Extensions, change of status, and potential adjustment of status to a Green Card are possible.

Thousands of people move to the U.S. every year. Many come to the U.S. due to an intercompany transfer on an L-type visa. If you or your spouse is an L1 visa holder, you may be wondering what you and your family’s options are to move to the U.S. with them. Below we’ll take a look at the eligibility criteria for the L2 visa and the benefits you’ll enjoy as an L1 dependent visa holder.

What is an L2 Visa?

L2 visas are also known as L1 dependent visas. These visas are granted to the spouses and dependents of L1 visa holders. An L2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, but despite this, you still enjoy a wide variety of benefits in the time you are in the U.S. We’ll take a look at these in more detail below.

Who is Eligibly for an L2 Visa

This visa has unique eligibility criteria. Its eligibility is firstly dependent on the validity of an L1 visa. An L1 visa is granted to someone who has been transferred within a company from an international branch to one situated in the U.S. Then the L2 visa holder must also be a dependent of the L1 visa holder.

You will be regarded as a dependent of an L1 visa holder if:

  • You are the spouse of someone with a valid L1 visa in a bona fide marriage, or
  • You are a dependent child of an L1 visa holder and you are under the age of 21.

Who is Ineligible for an L2 Visa?

Parents of an L1 visa holder are unfortunately not eligible for an L2 visa. Even if you as the L1 visa holder are the primary caretaker of your parents, it will still not qualify your parents to be eligible for an L2 visa.

Also keep in mind that in some cases the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) may revoke an L2 visa application if they find evidence that the intended holder will not accompany or remain with the L1 visa holder.

Benefits of an L2 Visa

There are great benefits if you are in the U.S. on an L1 dependent visa.

As an L2 visa holder, you may:

L2 Visa Validity

As mentioned before, the validity of an L2 visa is dependent on the validity of the L1 visa to which it is connected. The L2 visa is valid for as long as the L1 visa is valid. The dependents of an L1-A visa holder may stay in the U.S. for 7 years. Dependents of an L1-B visa holder may stay in the U.S. for 5 years. Your L2 visa will expire as soon as the L1 visa expires.

L2 Visa Required Documents

If you are considering applying for an L2 visa, you will need a few documents to prove to the USCIS that you are eligible.

Here is a list of the documents you’ll need for an L2 visa application:

  • A completed DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
  • Valid passport
  • A passport-style photo
  • Original marriage certificate (for spouses)
  • Original birth certificates for each dependent (for children)
  • Written approval of the primary L1 visa holder (the parent or spouse)
  • An employment verification letter from the L1 visa holder’s employer
  • L1 holder’s Form I-797
  • Visa application fee
  • Visa issuance fee.

If you don’t have the cash available to pay for the visa application and issuance fees, don’t worry. You can apply for a personal loan to help you out even if you are a visa holder.

The processing time for an L2 visa can take up to 30 days and even longer. If you want to make sure your application gets approved and want to avoid unnecessary mistakes, it could be a good idea to get the specialist advice of an immigration attorney.

L2 Visa Application Tips

The L1 dependent visa application process can be tricky. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you with your L2 visa application:

  • L2 spouses need to submit their visa application with their spouse (the primary L1 visa holder)
  • First, change your name on your passport (if it changed after you have married) before you apply for your L2 visa or else you’ll have to use your maiden name in the U.S.
  • Make sure your wedding album contains enough photos with both you and your spouse in it
  • Make sure there aren’t any mistakes regarding your personal details on your visa once you’ve received it, and
  • Remember, you can’t leave and re-enter the U.S. if you don’t have a valid visa.

L2 Visa Stamping

Visa stamping is where the visa is endorsed in your passport.

The USCIS will process your application and notify you about the date and time of your visa interview. Bring all the information and supporting documents you used in your application to your interview. Also, bring any supplementary evidence to support your case for your L2 visa stamping.

Supporting documents for L2 visa stamping:

  • Copy of the Form I-129 of the L1 visa holder
  • A photocopy of the L1 visa (if applying separately)
  • Proof of the marriage like a wedding album and wedding invitation card
  • A good copy of the L1 visa holder’s passport
  • An income tax return and pay stubs of the L1 visa holder
  • If the L1 visa holder is already working in the U.S. you need to provide all their payslips of the current calendar year and all of their previous U.S. federal tax returns. You also need to include the previous 6 months’ bank statements of the primary visa holder.

L2 Visa Extension

Remember, the validity of an L2 visa is dependent on the primary L1 visa. You can only extend your L2 visa if you have been living in the U.S. for a while and your extensions correspond with the validity of the primary L1 visa. L-type visas are generally extended for 2 years at a time.

Don’t worry, you won’t go out of status as long as the decision to extend your visa is still pending with the USCIS or until 240 days have passed.

To apply for your visa to be extended, you can file Form I-539 with the USCIS.

L2 Visa Change of Status

L2 visa holders are allowed to change their visa status to another visa type such as B-1, B-2, H1, H4 (if the primary visa holder has an H1 status) or even L1. Fortunately, the time you’ve spent in the U.S. under an L type visa will also not decrease the number of years for which your next visa will be valid.

L1 dependent visa holders may also change their visa status if the primary L1 visa holder changes their visa status. For example, you can change from L2 to H4 if the primary visa holder changes from L1 to H1. It is, however, very important to take note that any EAD you received while under an L2 visa status will not be valid after you’ve changed your visa status.

L2 Visa to Green Card

L2 visa holders are dependent on the primary L1 visa holder. They may be included in the process for adjustment of status (also known as applying for a Green Card). Make sure your L2 visa is valid when you apply for a Green Card to prevent the necessity for advance parole.

L2 Visa FAQs

There are a few questions that pop up regularly regarding L2 visas. Let’s take a look.

What if My Consulate Holds My Case Under Section 221(g)?

Under certain circumstances, the Consular Officer (CO) may request additional information. They may hold the case under a law known as INA Section 221(g) or also known as “pending for administrative processing”. If this is the case with your visa application, return to the CO on a working day with the required information. If the CO is not satisfied, they may refer the case to the Department of Human Services (DHS). You’ll have to work with the DHS to get your visa stamped.

What Happens if My Spouse (L1 visa holder) Changes His/Her Status?

You are a dependent of your spouse. Their visa status determines your status. You can change your visa status to match the dependent visa type in accordance with your spouse’s new visa.

Can L2 Visa Holders Work in the U.S.?

The USCIS grants you the opportunity to apply for an EAD if you are on an L1 dependent visa. You can apply for jobs once you have received your EAD.

Can L2 Visa Holders Study in the U.S.?

The L2 visa grants you the privilege to enroll in a school or university. A good tip here would also be to contact your school’s admissions office and ask if you are allowed to pay in-state tuition fees even if you are an L2 visa holder. In-state tuition fees are significantly lower than the standard tuition fees.

What is a Truly Dependent Visa?

Truly dependent visas are given to people who are dependent on someone in line for a U.S. visa. This includes a spouse or children who are under the age of 21 (and still dependent on the primary visa holder).

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.