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The New V Visa - Update

The LIFE Act, signed into law on December 21, 2000, created a new "V" visa and status. This nonimmigrant status allows certain spouses and minor children of green card holders to live and work in the US and to travel to and from this country while they wait until an immigrant visa number becomes available and they obtain their own US green card.

The INS expects to have regulations published in the Federal Register in May 2001 that will establish an application form and filing procedures. The Department of State began processing "V" nonimmigrant visas for eligible persons living abroad on April 2, 2001.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Persons who have been "unlawfully present" in the United States for more than 180 days and depart the country must be cautious because their departure triggers the grounds of inadmissibility regarding unlawful presence. Although these grounds of inadmissibility- which bar admission to the United States for 3 years or 10 years-do not prevent eligible persons from obtaining "V" status or from being readmitted to the United States in "V" status following travel abroad, these grounds do prevent such persons from adjusting status to lawful permanent resident (for the applicable 3-year or 10-year period) unless they obtain a waiver.

Applicants for the "V" visa and status MUST:

  1. Be the spouse or unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a lawful permanent resident;
  2. Have a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) filed with the INS on his or her behalf by the lawful permanent resident spouse or parent on or before December 21, 2000; and
  3. Have been waiting for at least three years after the Form I-130 was filed for their immigrant visa number (priority date) to become available in accordance with the Department of State's monthly Visa Bulletin; or
  4. Be the unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a person who meets the above three requirements.

Persons who have been issued a "V" visa abroad from the Department of State and admitted to the United States may apply for authorization to work in the United States by mailing a Form I- 765 (Application for Employment Authorization) along with the $100 application fee to:

US Immigration and Naturalization Service
P.O. Box 7216
Chicago, IL 60607-7216