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Can an L1 Dependent Work in the US?

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

Can L2 visa holders work in the US?

For non-US nationals working in the US under an L1 visa, they may be looking to bring their spouse and children to live with them. This, in turn, may raise the question of whether an L1 dependent can work in the US.

An L2 visa allows an L1 employee to be accompanied by their spouse, as well as any unmarried children under the age of 21. Such family members may seek admission in the L2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the L1 intra-company transferee.

L1 visa holders entering the US to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years.

For all L1A visa holders, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years. This slightly differs for L1B employees, where requests for extension of stay have a maximum limit of five years.


Can L1 dependents work in US?

Any non-US national wanting to work in the United States requires some form of authorization. This could be by way of an employment-related visa or a permanent resident card or, as in the case of the L2 spouse, where their nonimmigration status provides employment authorization.

Since the end of 2021, L1 spouses now automatically attain US employment authorization based on their valid L nonimmigrant status. This means that L-2 spouses are authorized to work as a matter of status, upon entry to the USA.

However, L-2 dependent children are not entitled to US employment authorization. They can, however, study while in the USA.


How do L2 visa holders prove their employment authorization?

L1 spouses are now issued Form I-94 with an ‘L-2S code’. L1 spouses can rely on the L-2S annotation on their valid Form I-94 as evidence of their employment authorization under List C of the I-9 employment verification process.

As such, L2 visa holders no longer need to apply for a separate employment authorization document (EAD).

The code assigned to dependent children on Form I-94s, ‘L-2Y’, is not eligible for employment authorization.


Applying for an L2 visa

To apply for an L2 visa, you will need to file Form DS-160 and submit the necessary documentation in support. This will include a copy of the spouse’s approved I-129 petition and employment verification letter, as well as the original marriage or birth certificate.

If the L1’s family members are already in the United States and seeking a change of status to, or extension of stay in, the L2 classification, they may apply using Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.


Need help?

NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys. From our central London base, we support companies and individuals from across the globe with L-1 visa and L2 visa petitions, ensuring initial eligibility and supporting through the petitioning process, and providing guidance on related issues such as work authorization.

If you have a question about the L2 visa, contact us.


L1 dependent visa work FAQs

Can L1 L-2 visa dependent work?

L2 spouses can work in the US, provided they, and the principal L1 visa holder, have a valid visa. L2 dependent children, however, do not have employment authorization.


Can your spouse work on L1 visa?

L1 visa spouses should apply for the L2 dependent visa, which allows the holder to work while in the US with valid status.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.


Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law, (The Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and AILA) and an experienced and trusted advisor to large multinational corporates through to SMEs. She provides strategic immigration advice and specialist application support to corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, actors and athletes from across the globe to meet their US-bound talent mobility needs.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals.

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.