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"V" Visas For Spouses and Children Of LPRs
by Carl Shusterman

Since the LIFE Act was enacted on December 21, 2001, most of the activity has centered on applications submitted under 245(I). Now that 245(i) has expired, the action has shifted to the granting of "V" visas by the State Department.

The new K3 and K4 visas for spouses and children of citizens are presently unavailable due to the absence of INS regulations concerning how to file petitions. We are also awaiting the issuance of INS regulations regarding the procedures by which late amnesty applicants may apply for permanent residence.

On April 16, 2001, the State Department issued regulations implementing the "V" visa category (which does not require that a petition be submitted to the INS). See

Generally, lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who marry after being granted that status may petition for their spouses and children under the family-based 2A category for them to obtain green cards. The rub is that the waiting time exceeds four and one-half years, and, in most cases, the spouse and children are not legally permitted to live with the LPRs in the U.S. during this period of time.

The "V1","V2" and "V3" visas allow certain spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to live and work in the U.S. during a portion of this period. However, rather than simply classifying spouses and children of LPRs as "immediate relatives" which would permit them to live together after enduring a few months of government processing times, Congress decided to split the baby.

Only spouses and children who have been lingering on the waiting list for a minimum of three years or more may obtain V visas, and then only if the petition was submitted on their behalf by December 21, 2000, the date of the law's enactment. So, the "V" visa is a temporary phenomenon, destined to fade away sometime after 2004.

"V1" visas are reserved for spouses of LPRs. "V2" visas are for children of LPRs who are petitioned for separately (an unusual occurrence). "V3" visas are for unmarried children, under the age of 21, who are derivative beneficiaries of "V1s" and "V2s". For example, if you petitioned for wife and your 16-year-old step-daughter three years ago, and now your step-daughter is 19, unwed and is the mother of an infant child, your wife can apply for a "V1" visa, your step-daughter for a "V-2" visas and your grandchild for a "V-3" visa.

How does the visa procedure work? The applicant may apply for a visa at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate, generally the post where the approved I-130 visa petition for permanent residence was forwarded. Normally, the visa will be valid for 10 years, although the validity of the visa may not extend past the 21st birthday of a child. Once in the U.S., "V" visaholders may apply for employment authorization, and, eventually, for adjustment of status to permanent residence. Alternatively, they may enter the U.S. on "V" visas, and later apply for immigrant visas abroad.

The "V" visa application (form DS-3052) must be submitted together with the Nonimmigrant Visa Application (form OF-156), both of which are available for download at

The form OF-156 is slated to be replaced sometime this summer by form DS-156.

The State Department estimates that 300,000 people are eligible to apply for "V" visas abroad, and that two-thirds will receive their visas at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. See

A State Department memorandum issued on January 30, 2001 provides additional information on "V" visa eligibility and processing. See

As mentioned in the April issue of SHUSTERMAN'S IMMIGRATION UPDATE, additional information on K and V visas is provided on the State Department's web site. See our LIFE Amendments Page at

scroll down to "Governmental Interpretations Of LIFE Act Amendments" and click on "Information About The New K And V Visas (State Department Web Site)".

Although persons in the U.S., whether or not they are legal, may apply for a change to "V" status, they may only do so after the INS issues implementing regulations. Such regulations are expected to be issued later this month.

About The Author

Carl Shusterman is a certified Specialist in Immigration Law, State Bar of California
Former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Attorney (1976-82)
Board of Governors, American Immigration Lawyers Association (1988-97)
Phone: (213) 623-4592 Fax: (213) 623-3720
Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 624 So. Grand Ave., Suite 1608
Los Angeles, California 90017

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