The V Visa is a nonimmigrant visa which was created to allow families to stay together while waiting for immigrant visas to be processed. This visa permits a spouse or children of a U.S. lawful permanent resident to live and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis until they are able to apply for lawful permanent resident status or for a different visa.

A permanent resident is also known as a green card holder and they have many different rights such as the right to work in the U.S., the right to live permanently in the U.S., the right to apply for educational financial aid and the right to start a business.

The V Visa allows family members to live with the lawful permanent resident rather than having to wait outside the United States. V visas are a temporary visa and only those who meet certain criteria are eligible for the visa.

Who is Eligible for a V Visa?

If you are a permanent resident or green card holder, your spouse, a child who is unmarried and under 21, or the child of your spouse or your step-child may be eligible for a V visa. However, they are eligible only if all of the following conditions apply:

  • You filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on or before December 21, 2000 for your family member and this includes children unmarried and under 21 who are listed on the petition;
  • The petition’s priority date is at least three years old;
  • The priority date is not current;
  • The applicant must not have already had an immigrant visa interview or be scheduled for an interview;
  • The petition must not already be at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for immigrant visa processing; and
  • The applicant must also be otherwise eligible as an immigrant.

The V Visa not only benefits spouses and minor children who are currently outside the U.S.  and have been waiting for more than 3 years but also benefits those who satisfy the 3-year requirement and are in the U.S.

This latter group can apply to change status to the new V category. Even those who have been out of status in the U.S. can obtain V status and they will not be subject to removal if they are eligible to claim V visa benefits.

Similarly a V visa applicant who would otherwise be subject to a 3-year or 10-year bar for previous violations of immigration law may get a V visa to come to the U.S. After the V visa holder has a relative petition approved on their behalf and a current priority date, they can adjust status under 245(a) or 245(i) if qualified.

If the immigrant petition or adjustment of status is ultimately denied, the V visa holder loses their status and they have to either leave the U.S. or change to another nonimmigrant status within 30 days of the denial.

How to Apply for a V Visa?

If your family member is inside the U.S., you have to file both of these forms:

  • Form I-539: Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Supplement A.
  • Form I-693: Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status.

However, if your family member is outside the U.S., they must go through consular processing.

Can a V visa holder obtain employment and travel outside the United States?

A V visa holder can obtain employment but they have to get an Employment Authorization Document which permits a temporary visitor to work in the U.S. You can also travel outside the U.S. if you have a V visa. However, these conditions apply:

  • If you obtained your V visa abroad, you can travel outside the U.S. as long as the visa is unexpired and you are still eligible for the visa.
  • If you obtained your V visa in the U.S., you will need to visit a consular office abroad before you return to the U.S.

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

There are many different types of visa which are available and the eligibility and application requirements can vary greatly. If you want to know which type of visa is the most suitable for you, it may be useful to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before proceeding.