L-1 EAD rules

Non-US nationals are required to prove their entitlement to work in the USA, regardless of citizenship or national origin. In some cases, this means applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as proof of eligibility to work.

The following guide looks at whether, as an intra-company transferee, you will also need to apply for an L1 EAD, and if your dependents in the US on the L-2 visa will also require authorization to work.

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What is an EAD?

An Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, is the official document that you must provide to your US employer to prove your legal entitlement to work in the USA, by reason of immigration status, or otherwise, for a specified period of time.

Certain categories of visa-holder are exempt from the EAD requirement.

In particular, you do not need to apply for an EAD if you have a nonimmigrant visa that authorizes you to work for a specific employer. This includes L1 visa holders.

The permission to work as an L1 visa holder is implicit within the nonimmigrant classification, meaning an L1 EAD is not required to prove your eligibility to work. Instead, your authorization to work comes from the permission already granted under L1 status to travel to the United States as an intra-company transferee.

If you have lived in the United States under L1 status and subsequently apply for lawful permanent residence, your green card will then constitute evidence of your employment authorization. In other words, an L1 EAD will again not be required.

L1 visa EAD for dependants

Family members, including spouses and dependent children under 21 years of age, of L1 visa holders are able to join the primary L-1 visa holder in coming to the US under the L2 dependent visa. L2 visa holders with employment authorization are allowed to take on any kind of employment, including being self-employed. L2 children are not permitted to work in the US.

Under previous rules, L2 visa holder spouses had to apply for an EAD by filing form I-765 along with their supporting documents. Although the application process was relatively simple, it typically took several months for a decision, meaning L2 visa holders had to submit their application as soon as they arrived into the US, rather than waiting to find a job first.

However, under new guidance brought in by the USCIS at the end of 2021, I-94 forms for L2 visa holders include notations indicating that these individuals are authorized to work incident to their nonimmigrant status. In other words, these spouses will no longer be required to apply for an EAD to evidence their authorization to work and the annotated I-94 document will be an acceptable I-9 document for work authorization.

The changes also mean automatic extensions of EADs for L2 visa holders, provided the following apply:

  • The dependent spouse properly filed an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) for a renewal of their EAD, in the same class before their current EAD expired; and
  • The dependent spouse has an unexpired Form I-94 indicating valid E, L, or H-4 derivative status.

Automatic extensions of work authorization will end automatically on the earlier of either:

  • The end of the validity period of the nonimmigrant status, as shown on the Form I-94;
  • The approval or denial of the application to renew the previous EAD using Form I-765; or
  • 180 days from the date of the expiration of the previous EAD.

L2 visa holders relying on existing I-94 forms without the notation are required to secure and present a valid EAD or evidence of an auto extension for work authorization.

Renewing an EAD

The EAD and can be renewed, provided the individual retains their L2 visa status.

Renewals are processed in the same way as initial EAD applications. The same process should be followed, including submitting supporting documents and payment of the filing fee.

Ideally, EAD renewals should be filed 3-4 months before the existing EAD will expire to ensure continued validity of work authorization.

Need assistance?

As permission to work in the United States as an intra-company transferee is implicit within your nonimmigrant L1-A or L1-B visa status, you do not need to obtain an L1 EAD, while L-2 visa holders will no longer, provided specific conditions are met, need an EAD under new USCIS guidance.

NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys. We advise businesses and their employees on US visa and immigration options and support through the application and interview process. Contact us for advice with your L visa.

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