What Is the L-2 Visa?
The L-2 visa allows immediate family members of an L-1 visa holder to accompany them to the United States.
An L-2 visa allows the immediate family members -- including spouse and minor, unmarried children -- of L-1 visa holders to accompany the primary visa holder to the United States. It is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning that its holders can enter and remain in the U.S. for a limited amount of time (based on the length of the L-1 visa), and pursue a limited number of activities while there.
What Is the L-1 Visa Upon Which the L-2 Depends?
The L-1 visa is meant for intracompany transferee managers and executives and L-1B employees (intracompany transferee professionals with specialized knowledge). While these people normally work for a non-U.S. company that has an affiliated entity within the U.S., they can, with this visa, come to the U.S. to perform services for their company.
The L-1 visa has an initial time limit of three years. The L-1 visa holder may then apply for extensions of two years at a time, up to a maximum of seven years for managers or executives, and five years for people with specialized knowledge. The L-2 visa holders can -- as long as they continue to qualify as immediate family members -- also apply for extensions, lasting as long as the L-1 visa holder legally remains in the United States.
Do Annual Visa Limits Affect L-2 Visas?
Unlike in some visa categories, there are no limits on the number of L-2 visas that can be given out each year (nor on the number of L-1s).
Fees and Costs
L-2 costs include a nonrefundable application processing fee. The amount was $160 as of early 2016, but check for updates on the State Department’s "Fees for Visa Services" page.
Both L-1 and L-2 visa applicants may also, upon approval of the visas, have to pay a visa issuance fee. The amount depends on reciprocity agreements between the country of origin and the United States. To check the amount for your country, go to the "Reciprocity by Country" page of the state Department’s website.
To apply for an L-2 visa, you must submit Form DS-160, a valid passport, a 2x2 inch photograph that conforms to State Department guidelines, and proof of the relationship between you and the L-1 worker.
L-2 Visa Limitations
The L-2 visa holder who is the spouse of the L-1 visa holder may apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization (a work permit). This is done on USCIS Form I-765. In box 16 of the form, you would show your eligibility by writing "(a)(18)."
L-2 children, however, may not accept employment in the United States. But they may go to school.
Can L-2 Visa Holders Become U.S. Permanent Residents?
There is no direct path from being an L-2 visa holder to getting a U.S. green card. However, if you become eligible for a green card on some other grounds – such as a through a job offer from a U.S. employer or because you are or become the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen – nothing stops you from applying to adjust status so as to obtain permanent resident status (green card). However, if you violate the terms of your visa, perhaps by working without authorization, committing a crime, or staying past the permitted time under the visa, you may lose your right to adjust status or get a green card.