If a family member becomes qualified to relocate to the United States under a recognized government program, you may find that you can also qualify for a visa. One situation where this is common is the L-2 visa especially for family members of L-1 visa holders.
Understanding the L-Series Visas
An L-1 visa is a special commercial visa allowing companies to transfer employees from their overseas operations to start or expand operations in the United States. The transfer must be intended to help the company develop a U.S. business presence.
In general, the L1A visa is for senior supervisory employees, while the L1B visa is for employees who have special technical skills or knowledge. Visa status can be granted for anywhere from three months to five years – the total length of stay depends on country of origin and other factors.
An L1B holder may later qualify for an L1A, thus extending his or her overall time in the country.
Obtaining the L2 Visa – The Key Advantage
The most common period for the L-1 visa to be active is one to three years. In unusual circumstances, the L-1 may be extended a maximum of seven years.
Naturally, it is impossible to break up families for this extraordinary length of time – so the U.S. State Department provides a special visa classification for the family members of L-1 visa holders: The L-2.
Spouses and dependent children (under age 21) of L-1 visa holders may accompany the L-1 visa holder by obtaining the L-2 visa. Unlike many other visas intended for spouses and dependents, the L-2 has a major advantage: It permits the holder to work, not only attend school.
As a result, eligible spouses should usually pursue the L-2 even if they discover that they are eligible for another visa category, such as Parent of Special Immigrants.
Permission to work is not granted automatically after obtaining an L-2. Instead, the qualifying spouse must complete an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Once processed, this document typically empowers the L-2 holder to receive a Social Security Number.
An L-2 and verified EAD enables the holder to participate in work at any legal job or business in the United States. The visa holder’s L-2 status is tied into the participating spouse’s L-1 status, and the L-2 will be terminated once the L-1 reaches its conclusion.
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