L1 Visa Dependent Specific Questions

Posted on January 22, 2007 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

How Can the Spouse and Children Work or Study in the U.S.?

In the previous article, we explained about how an L visa holder can travel in and out of the United States during the green card application process. Most L visa holders come to the U.S. with their spouses and children. Therefore, these L visa holders would be concerned with: 1) whether their spouses could work in the U.S., and 2) whether their children could study in the U.S.

Question asked:

Mr. Feng got an approval on his L visa application last month. His wife and fourteen-year old daughter also got an approval on their L-2 visas (Spouse or Children of L-1 visa holders) at the same time. Mr. Feng is planning to come to the U.S. with his wife and daughter. He wants to know: 1) whether his wife could immediately start working after she arrived in the U.S.; and 2) whether his daughter could study in the U.S. If yes, would there be anything he may need to pay special attention to and prepare ahead prior to their move to the United States?


According to the Immigration Act, Interpreter Releases on February 4, 2002, the spouse of an L visa holder is eligible for the employment authorization in the U.S. However, it does not mean that the spouse of L visa can work automatically after he or she came to the United States. L-visa holders may start working right after they came to the U.S. and also get a social security number. The spouse of the L visa holder must apply for an Employment Authorization Document, also known as EAD, at the USCIS service center with jurisdiction over his or her place of residence. Usually it takes about 3 months for the USCIS to process the Employment Authorization Document. The initial Employment Authorization Document would be valid for 1or 2years. The spouse of an L visa holder would need to apply for the renewal of the Employment Authorization Document 6 months prior to the expiration of the original Employment Authorization Document.

The spouse of L visa holder also needs to apply for a social security number from local Social Security Office after the Employment Authorization Document is approved. The spouse of an L visa holder may start working legally after he or she got a social security number. Therefore, Mrs. Feng could work legally, only after she obtained an Employment Authorization Document and a Social Security Number.

Unmarried children of an L visa holder under the age of 21 could apply for an L-2 visa as a dependent relative of the L visa holder. They may study in the U.S. with the L-2 status without having to change their status to F-1 (student). Generally, children of 6 to 11 years of ages attend elementary school; children from 12 to 13 attend middle school, and children between 14 and 17 attend high school. Therefore, Mr. Feng’s daughter can apply for local public high school after she came to the U.S. However, Mr. Feng’s daughter cannot choose any high school she wishes to attend. Most public schools will only accept children who reside within the boundary of a certain zip code. Mr. Feng can either buy or rent a house in a residential area where the high school he wishes to send his daughter to is located. Normally, the school will require some documents, such as a copy of the daughter’s L-2 visa, previous school record, transcript, medical and immunization report and others for registration. Therefore, it is advised that Mr. Feng prepared those required documents before he left for the U.S. Any documents in foreign language should have official English translations.

Other than academic result, the extra curriculum activities, known as ECA, are also very important factor in consideration of university admissions in the U.S. Mr. Feng should encourage his daughter to develop multiple interests and attend various extra curriculum activities.  Such activities could increase her chance to get admitted by a renowned university after the high school graduation.

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.