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(#144-02/01/01)

New V-visa Allows Spouses and Childern to Live/Work While Waiting for Impending Cases


On December 21, 2000, the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (LIFE) became law. This new law creates a V visa that allows certain spouses and children of permanent residents to live and work here while their US Immigration cases are pending.

Congress passed LIFE to bring families together. Due to processing delays and quota backlogs, husbands, wives and children of permanent residents and US citizens often wait abroad months or years to get immigrant visas.

1. Who qualifies for the new V visa?

The V visa is available to the spouse and unmarried children under 21 of permanent residents. The applicant must have been waiting for permanent residence three years or more from the time the INS received a second preference petition filed on his or her behalf. The INS must have received the applicant's petition on or before December 21, 2000. The INS need not have approved the petition.

2. What are the benefits of the V visa?

V visa holders can live and work in the United States while waiting to qualify for permanent residence.

3. How does one get a V visa?

V visa applicants outside the United States will apply for their visa at a US consulate abroad. The bars for applicants unlawfully present don't apply. Applicants in the United States, even those here unlawfully, qualify to change status without returning home. Once the V visa holder has a relative petition approved on his or her behalf and a current priority date, he or she can adjust status under 245(a) or 245(i) if qualified.

4. Is the V visa available to people who have been in undocumented status?

Yes. V visa applicants ARE NOT inadmissible for having been "unlawfully present" in the United States more than 180 days.

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