Updated on 20.05.2023

Visa question of the month - Multiple employers allowed in the US?

Your question: I will be working in the USA for my current employer's subsidiary on an L-1 visa. Can I also work for other US employers with the L-1 visa?

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Your question

I will be working in the USA for my current employer's subsidiary on an L-1 visa. Can I also work for other US employers with the L-1 visa? And how can my wife get a work permit for the USA?

Our Answer

The L-1 visa is a work visa that is company-bound. The official petitioner of the L visa for you as a future employee (= beneficiary) is the US company. This means that you are only permitted to work for this specific US location.

The only exception: If the L-1 application is a so-called blanket procedure, i.e. the application is based on an L-Blanket registration of the corporate group, you can use the granted US visa to work for all US locations in the USA that are listed on the L-Blanket registration. However, the prerequisite is that you carry out the same activity as stated in the application procedure. This should be checked again in advance.

If you are applying for an L-1 Individual Visa, you are only permitted to work for the applicant US company. Work for other employers in the United States, whether permanent, part-time or freelance, etc., is not permitted. This also applies to self-employment.

Your spouse can obtain an L-2 visa derived from the L-1 visa. Under the following conditions, it is possible for L-2 spouses to pursue employment or self-employment in the USA:

  1. The residence status on the I-94 entry form was issued upon entry as L2S (S = Spouse). The I-94 document with the corresponding "S" suffices as proof and entitles the holder to work in the United States immediately after entering the country. This is not tied to a specific US employer, as this is a general work permit (EAD).
  2. Spouses without the corresponding "S" suffix on Form I-94, i.e. whose status has only been designated as L2, require a valid general work permit (Employment Authorization Document, EAD) before they can work in the USA. The EAD application can only be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after entering the USA and is initially valid for a maximum of two years (depending on the I-94 residence status granted); an extension is possible. The application takes around 4-12 months and employment can only be taken up after a successful application, i.e. sometimes after a longer waiting period.
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Updated on 20.05.2023