An accompanying visa is a special type of visa that is issued to family members who may be traveling with a foreign national to the U.S. The original visa applicant is called the “principal applicant” and must be qualified to travel to the U.S. based on the visa category they applied under.
From there, the accompanying person may travel with them if they are granted an accompanying visa. In most cases, the accompanying visa will be issued within 6 months of the date that the principal was issued their visa. Application requirements and processing times will depend mostly on what type of visa the principal is traveling to the U.S. under.
What are Some Different Types of Accompanying Visas?
Not all visa categories allow for accompanying visas. In general, accompanying visas may include:
- The H-4 visa, which is the accompanying visa for the H1-B working visa;
- The J-2 visa, which accompanies the J-1 visa;
- The L-2 Visa, which is the accompaniment for the L-1 working visa; and
- The E3-D visa, which accompanies the E-3 visa (work visa for Australians).
Who Can Apply for Accompanying Visas?
Persons who can apply for an accompanying visa usually only include:
- The spouse or fiancé of the principal, and/or
- The child or children of the principal, so long as they are under 21 years of age
What are Some Restrictions for Accompanying Visas?
One of the restrictions for persons who enter the U.S. under an accompanying visa is that they usually aren’t permitted to work, even if the principal has entered the U.S. under a work visa. There may however be exceptions where the accompanying person can work. For example, J-2 visa holders can sometimes work in the U.S., while H-4 visa holders can’t work.
What are the Requirements for Obtaining an Accompanying Visa?
Requirements for accompanying visas may vary depending on which category of visa the principal is traveling under. However, most accompanying visa applications will require:
- Evidence of the person’s relationship to the principal;
- Payment of filing fees;
- Submission of various travel documents, including passports, photo IDs, medical records;
- “No Criminal Record”: Obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) within 3 months of the issuance date. This record has to be certified by U.S. State Department;
- Indications that the person is not staying in the U.S. with the intent to deceive immigration authorities (i.e., the person will not overstay a visa); and
- Any other records or documents being requested by immigration authorities.
These requirements vary depending on the nature of the visa and the overall purpose of the visit. Any violations of visa terms and agreements may lead to legal consequences such as removal or citation, in which case the assistance of a lawyer may become necessary.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With an Accompanying Visa?
Accompanying visas are generally issued as a privilege for the travelers; they aren’t a guaranteed right. If you or a loved one is in need of help with an accompanying visa, you should speak with an immigration lawyer who can assist in navigating through the complex immigration procedures required.