L2 Visa: The Complete Guide

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • The L-2 visa is designed for spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L-1 visa holders.
  • It is a non-immigrant visa that provides various benefits in the U.S.
  • Application process involves filling out the DS-160 form, paying a $160 fee, scheduling an embassy interview, submitting necessary documents, and attending the interview.

If you’re a spouse or child of an L-1 visa holder, the L-2 visa offers a valuable opportunity to join your family member in the United States. This guide provides insights into the L-2 visa, designed to keep families together during work-related relocations to the U.S.

What is an L-2 Visa?

L-2 visas are also known as L-1 dependent visas. These visas are granted to the spouses and dependents of L-1 visa holders. An L-2 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 L-2 Visa

Eligible dependents for the L-2 visa include spouses and unmarried children under 21. However, other family members like parents and grandparents do not qualify, although they can visit on a B-2 visitor visa.

How to apply for the L-2 visa?

Applying for an L-2 visa involves a series of steps that are essential for the successful processing of your application. This guide outlines the process to help you navigate each stage efficiently.

1. Complete the DS-160 Form

Start by filling out the DS-160 online application form. Provide accurate and complete information as this form is crucial for initiating your visa process.

2. Pay the Application Fee

The fee for the L-2 visa is $160. Ensure to keep the payment receipts as they are required during the application process.

3. Schedule Your Visa Appointment

Applicants aged 13 to 79 years must schedule a visa interview appointment. Since the U.S. Embassy can have long waiting periods, it’s advisable to book your appointment as early as possible.

4. Prepare Your Document File

Gather all necessary documents, including:

  • Your valid passport (validity exceeding 6 months beyond your intended stay)
  • A U.S. visa-compliant photograph
  • Fee payment receipts
  • Appointment confirmation letter
  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Relevant documents from the L-1 visa holder (e.g., Form I-129, Form I-129S for L blanket petitions, Form I-797)
  • Copies of the L-1 visa holder’s passport and visa
  • Employer letter and previous employment letters of the L-1 visa holder
  • Proof of relationship with the L-1 visa holder (e.g., birth certificates for children, marriage certificate, wedding album, invitation, venue, receipts, honeymoon details, and registry photos for spouses)

5. Attend the Visa Interview

The final step is the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy. Be punctual, and bring all required documents. The interview questions will focus on your relationship with the L-1 visa holder and your intentions in the U.S.

It’s crucial to provide detailed and truthful answers during the interview to avoid rejection. Following these steps carefully will enhance your chances of a successful L-2 visa application.

What is the L-2 visa processing time?

Once you’ve completed the application steps and submitted all necessary documents for an L-2 visa, there is a standard processing period you’ll need to anticipate. Typically, L-2 visa processing ranges from 15 days to about a month. However, this timeline can vary based on the specific U.S. Embassy’s workload and other external factors, which may result in longer processing times. It’s important to plan accordingly and consider these potential delays in your travel or relocation schedule.

L-2 Visa Duration

As mentioned before, the validity of an L-2 visa is dependent on the validity of the L-1 visa to which it is connected. The L-2 visa is valid for as long as the L-1 visa is valid. The dependents of an L1-A visa holder may stay in the U.S. for 7 years. Dependents of an L-1B visa holder may stay in the U.S. for 5 years. Your L-2 visa will expire as soon as the L-1 visa expires.

L-2 Visa Extension and Renewal

Remember, the validity of an L-2 visa is dependent on the primary L-1 visa. You can only extend your L-2 visa if you have been living in the U.S. for a while and your extensions correspond with the validity of the primary L-1 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.

Employment and Study Opportunities

L-2 visa holders can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and have the flexibility to work anywhere in the U.S. once it’s approved. Additionally, both spouses and children can pursue education, potentially qualifying for in-state tuition fees.

L-2 Visa Change of Status

L-2 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 L-1. 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.

L-1 dependent visa holders may also change their visa status if the primary L-1 visa holder changes their visa status. For example, you can change from L-2 to H-4 if the primary visa holder changes from L-1 to H-1. It is, however, very important to take note that any EAD you received while under an L-2 visa status will not be valid after you’ve changed your visa status.

L-2 Visa to Green Card

For spouses and children of L-1 visa holders, the L-2 visa not only offers a way to live in the U.S. but also a pathway to permanent residency. This change from a nonimmigrant to a permanent resident status is predominantly initiated by the L-1 visa holder’s transition to an employment-based immigrant visa.

L-2 Visa to Green Card: The Process

Below, you will find brief overviews of the process for transitioning from an L-2 visa to different types of green cards:

  1. L-2 to EB-1C Visa: This is for multinational managers and executives. No PERM Labor Certification is required, and the U.S. employer files Form I-140 for the EB-1C Visa. L-2 visa holders adjust their status using Form I-485.
  2. L-2 to EB-2 Visa: Targeting foreign citizens with advanced degrees or exceptional ability, this requires a PERM Labor Certification or a National Interest Waiver. The change of status is completed with Form I-485.
  3. L-2 to EB-3 Visa: For skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers, this process also necessitates a PERM Labor Certification, followed by the filing of Form I-485.
  4. L-2 to EB-5 Visa: This category is for foreign investors. A significant investment in a U.S. business is required, and the change of status is achieved by filing Form I-526 and Form I-485.

Processing Time and Application Period

The process can take between 18 and 30 months. Applicants from countries with backlogs, like India and China, may experience longer waits. It’s crucial to apply for the Green Card within the L-1 visa’s validity period.

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Frequently Asked Questions About L-2 Visas

There are a few questions that pop up regularly regarding L-2 visas. Let’s take a look.

What is an L-2 Visa?

The L-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for dependents (spouses and children under 21) of L-1 visa holders, who are transferring to the U.S. for work purposes.

Who is eligible for an L-2 Visa?

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of L-1 visa holders are eligible for the L-2 visa.

Can L-2 Visa holders work in the U.S.?

Yes, L-2 visa holders can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work in the U.S.

What is the processing time for an L-2 Visa?

The processing time typically ranges from 15 days to a month but can vary based on the U.S. Embassy’s workload.

What documents are required for an L-2 Visa application?

Required documents include a valid passport, DS-160 confirmation page, marriage and birth certificates (if applicable), a copy of the L-1 visa holder’s approved petition and employment verification letter, and financial documents of the L-1 visa holder.

Can L-2 Visa holders study in the U.S.?

Yes, L-2 visa holders can study in the U.S. on both a part-time and full-time basis.

Is it possible to change from an L-2 Visa to another visa status?

Yes, L-2 visa holders can apply to change their visa status to other categories like F-1 (student visa) or H-1B (work visa), subject to eligibility.

Can L-2 Visa holders apply for a Green Card?

Yes, they can apply for a Green Card as dependents if the L-1 visa holder’s application for permanent residency is approved.

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