L-2 visa

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An L-2 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States by the dependent spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of qualified L-1 visa holders. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is only valid for the duration of the spouse's L-1 visa.

Employment with L-2 Visa[edit]

The holder of an L-2 visa needs to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be allowed to work with any employer.[1] According to the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, it is enough if a person possesses a social security card as long as the card does not state any restrictions such as "Not valid for employment", "Valid for work only with INS Authorization" or "Valid for work only with DHS Authorization".[2] In these cases, the L-2 visa holder needs proof other than a social security card in order to establish employment authorization. Such proof includes the EAD card. It is recommended to apply for an EAD, even in cases where someone does not explicitly need one, in order to be able to prove to prospective employers that the holder is authorized. The spouse of an L-1 visa holder with an EAD is allowed to work freely; dependent children of an L-1 visa holder are not automatically authorised to work in the USA.


L-2 status may be renewed and extended within the United States when the L-1 visa is renewed. Renewal in the United States applies to status only, not the actual visa in the passport. For visa renewal, the applicant must go to a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the United States. An alien cannot leave the United States and then re-enter without a valid L-1 or L-2 visa, and must appear personally before a consular officer for visa issuance. This often leads to difficulties for applicants, because it means leaving their adopted home in the United States for as long as it takes the embassy to issue their new visa. At particularly busy times of year, or at some consulates or embassies, this can take several weeks or more.

The L-2 visa[edit]

The L-2 visa allows the dependent spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of qualified L-1 visa holders to enter into the U.S.


The applicant may:

  • Reside in the U.S. for the duration of the L-1 visa holder's authorized duration of stay
  • Work on a full-time basis in the U.S. with proper employment authorization from the USCIS
  • Engage in full-time study in the U.S.
  • Travel in and out of the U.S. on short trips and return

Allowable length of stay[edit]

The allowable duration of stay is as long as the primary L-1 visa holder maintains valid status, or up to a maximum of seven years, whichever is shorter.

How to apply[edit]

The following must be submitted:

  • Completed visa application along with the applicable draft amount
  • Original valid passport
  • Two recent color photographs
  • Original marriage certificate
  • Copy of the applicant's parent's or spouse's L-1 approval
  • Parent's or spouse's employment verification letter
  • Demand draft for visa application fee
  • Demand draft for visa issuance fee

Length of processing[edit]

The law states that the USCIS shall issue Employment Authorization documents within 90 days. However, at some service centers, the wait exceeds 90 days.

Employment Authorization is not received within 90 days[edit]

There is an option to submit a new Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with copies of the required supporting documents and the receipt for the original application at the Service Centre closest. Based on this, the applicant will receive an Employment Authorization document which is valid for 240 days while the USCIS processes the two year employment authorization document.

Length of validity[edit]

The Employment Authorization document is valid for two years and may be renewed.

Type of employment[edit]

There is no limit on the nature of the authorized employment. The USCIS refers to this as 'open market' employment authorization.

H-1B temporary professional working status[edit]

Time in the U.S. on L-2 visa will not count against the six years the law allows the applicant to work in the U.S. on H-1B visa. The USCIS approves H-1B status for professional workers in up to three year intervals. If the applicant was unemployed or out of status between H-1B jobs, the USCIS would count that time.

Adjustment to legal permanent resident[edit]

The applicant can apply for Adjustment of Status. Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status must be filed with the USCIS.

Advance Parole when travelling abroad[edit]

There is no need to apply for Advance Parole if the L-2 visa holder wishes to travel internationally. This is true as long as nonimmigrant status is maintained.

Change from H-4 to L-2 status to get work authorization[edit]

If the applicants spouse qualifies for L-1 status, they can apply for a change of status from H-4 to L-2 status and the spouse from H-1B to L-1 status. To obtain work authorization, submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, together with Form I-539, Application for Change or Extension of Status.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Types of Social Security Cards - Social Security Administration". www.ssa.gov.
  2. ^ http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf