L1 Visa Dependents

Posted on August 22, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Can I Take My Wife and Children to the U.S?

In the past two articles, we gave a brief introduction on how multinational companies can take advantages of the L visa to transfer qualified employees to work in the U.S. and what type of requirements they have to meet in order to qualify for the L visa. Based on the number of readers that had practical questions regarding the L visa, we will address some of the recurring concerns in the following articles.

Mr. Li asked:

I am currently working at a multinational company in China. My boss plans to transfer me to the U.S. branch as a general manager. I want to know if my wife and my children can go to the U.S. with me. If they can, can my wife work and my kid study there legally?


If Mr. Li’s employer would like to apply for an L-1A visa for him, then his wife and children will not encounter any big problems in coming to the U.S. legally. As we have mentioned before, the L-1A visa is designed for senior managers and executives. Mr. Li is qualified for this category, since his employer already has a branch in the U.S. and he will be transferred to the U.S. branch as a general manger. Therefore, Mr. Li can apply for the L visa, and his spouse and children can apply for the L-2 visa and accompany him to the U.S.

Compared with B1/B2, H-1B, and H-2, one big advantage of the L visa is that the spouse and children of the L visa holder can apply for the L-2 visa and they can work or study in the U.S. legally. Thus, once Mr. Li’s wife and children obtained the L-2 visa, the wife can apply for a work permit to work in the U.S. while the children attended public schools to study in the U.S. legally.

Many readers do not understand the differences between the H-4 visa and the L-2 visa. They think that the L-2 visa holder is dependents of the L-1 visa holder, just in the same way that the H-4 visa is for the dependent family members of the H-1B,. They reason that, just as the H-4 visa holder cannot work in the U.S. legally, the L-2 visa holder would be in the same situation.

It is true that the H-4 visa holder is not allowed to work in the U.S., but the L-2 visa holder is quite different from the H-4 visa holder. Though both of them are dependent visa types, the U.S. immigration law treats them differently. Under the U.S. immigration law, the L-2 visa holder is allowed to apply for a work permit, and once their applications are approved they can work in the U.S. legally. Moreover, unmarried minor children under 21 years of age of the L visa holder can also study in the U.S. legally. They are not required to apply for a student visa individually.

In summary, if Mr. Li could get his L-1A visa, his wife and children could work and study in the U.S. legally. Furthermore, if Mr. Li wanted to apply for a green card in the future, he would be qualified for the first preference category of employment-based immigration. What it means is that he would not have to go through the complicated Labor Certification process. Thus, he could get green card much easier than others under different preference categories could.

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.