Everything You Need to Know About the V Visa
Are you married to a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the U.S. but have been waiting for years now to get your immigration papers approved? Are you looking for a way to join your spouse in the U.S. which also allows your children to come along? We might have a solution for you – a V visa.
A V visa allows you and your children to join your spouse in the U.S. Let’s take a look at how it works.
What is a V Visa?
So what exactly is a V visa? There is a law in the U.S. called the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act). It allows the spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of these Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) to live and work in the U.S. while their applications for Permanent Residency are being processed by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). You may also travel abroad and return to the U.S. on a V visa. This visa has some strict eligibility requirements which we discuss below. But first let’s look at the different categories of the V visa group.
Please note, it’s been a while since the U.S. government has issued a V visa. But you may be able to convince them otherwise if you match the eligibility criteria.
Types of V Visas
The V visa has 3 different categories each with its own unique characteristics. You need to qualify for one of these 3 groups to become eligible for a V visa. The groups are as follows:
- V-1 Visa – This category is reserved for spouses of LPRs who already have a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) filed on their behalf. The I-130 must have been filed on or before December 21, 2000.
- V-2 Visa – This is for the children of LPRs. They must be under the age of 21 and unmarried to be eligible. Your LPR parent must also have filed a Petition for Alien Relative on or before 21 December 2000 on your behalf.
- V-3 Visa – This category is reserved for the children of a V-1 visa holder. The child must be unmarried and under the age of 21 to be eligible.
You can consult a professional like an immigration attorney to help you find your category. They will also advise you on how to improve your chances of applying successfully for a V visa.
Who is Eligible for a V Visa?
We’ve already had a look at some of the eligibility criteria under the different types of V visas. But here are the basic eligibility criteria you need to comply with before you may apply for this visa as well:
- You are the spouse or the child of a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)
- Your LPR spouse or parent has filed a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) on your behalf on or before December 21 of 2000
- You have been waiting for at least 3 years for a decision on your Form I-130
- The priority date of your application can’t be current
- The candidate (you) can’t either have been to a visa interview or be scheduled for one
- The petition must not already be at a U.S. embassy or consulate for immigrant processing
- You must be suitable for an immigrant visa
You’ll have to comply with these eligibility criteria before you can apply for a V visa.
Documents Required for a V Visa
Like with any immigration application process there are some documents you need to submit. These are the basic documents required in a V visa application:
- Form I-539 – Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-693 – Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status
Most visa applications require documents that prove your foreign citizenship and eligibility for the visa. The forms mentioned above will have some guidelines to mention which documents you’ll need to include in your application. Ask an immigration attorney whether you need more documents for your unique situation.
How to Apply for a V Visa
V visa applicants have predominantly two situations that determine their application route. There are, therefore, two ways to apply for the visa. You either apply from within the U.S. or you apply from abroad. Some LPRs have family members that are still waiting abroad for their immigration papers to be processed.
This is how it works.
Applying from Within the U.S.
People already living in the U.S. may apply for their V visa at the USCIS. You don’t have to leave the country to start the process. Complete the required documentation and submit it at the USCIS offices that have jurisdiction in the state where you live.
Applying from Abroad
People who aren’t in the U.S. need to follow the consular processing route. You’ll need to submit your application at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Comply with the requirements as set out by that office. You’ll most likely have an officer at the consulate or embassy that has to make a decision regarding your case.
How Much Does a V Visa Cost?
There are two predominant forms (already mentioned) you need to submit. Form I-539 costs $370 to file, but the application process also requires a biometric screening test which costs $85. The medical examination required as per Form I-693 may have varying costs. The cost will depend on where and when you perform this medical examination. These costs obviously won’t include any extra costs like immigration lawyer fees.
V Visa Processing Time?
The processing time for a V visa is also dependent on many factors. Your unique situation will determine the time it takes to produce your V visa. Generally, it takes about 6 to 10 months for the USCIS to complete their part, and then it may take another 10 months if you are following the consular processing route. If all goes well, you may get an answer to your application within 20 months, but it is possible for the processing to take longer than that. There are preference categories pertaining to certain visas (like an F4 visa) which may affect your processing time as well.
Can a V Visa Holder transition to a Green Card?
You have a spouse or a parent who is already a Legal Permanent Resident. You already have a Form I-130 filed on your behalf. The V visa is merely a way to unite your family in the U.S. while you wait for the outcome of your request to immigrate to the U.S. The V visa does not remove your immigration. It merely allows you to live and work in the U.S. with your family whilst you wait on the result of your Form I-130 application. So yes, you can transition to a Green Card through a Form I-485. Once your I-130 has been approved by the USCIS.
You don’t need to live apart from your Legal Permanent Resident spouse residing and working in the U.S. You can apply for your V visa today if you comply with the eligibility criteria. Your children (under the age of 21) also don’t have to remain in their country of birth. They can come along to live and work with your spouse and you in the U.S.
Apply today and reunite your family!