On December 21, 2000 the President signed into law significant new immigration legislation, effective April 1, 2001. The Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act and amendments have effectively created new categories of nonimmigrant visas, including three V Visas, the K-3 Visa and the K-4 Visa. Extremely helpful for second preference beneficiaries and spouses of U.S. citizens, these visas will help ease the immigration process for thousands of individuals, and reunite families separated for long periods of time during the process of immigration.
The new categories will allow the issuance of nonimmigrant visas to spouses, children and, in some cases, grandchildren of both lawful permanent resident aliens and spouses of U.S. citizens. Beneficiaries may apply for admission to the U.S. as nonimmigrants and then remain in the U.S. until the visa petition is approved or denied. If the petition is approved, beneficiaries may continue to remain in the U.S. until the application for adjustment of status is approved or denied, or may seek an immigrant visa at a consular office abroad.
These new categories specifically relate to spouses and children for whom an immigrant visa or adjustment of status is not available even though the petition has been filed. This unavailability may be due to lengthy processing delays or the absence of available visa numbers due to annual visa limitations.
Applicants must show that they have been waiting at least three years for action by the INS on their petition. If the INS has approved the petition, applicants must demonstrate they have not received a visa number due to worldwide numerical limitations, or that their adjustment of status or immigrant visa is still pending.
The National Visa Center will send a special notice to all applicants who filed petitions on or before December 21, 2000 when the priority date is at least three years old (as long as the INS has a petition record in its files at the National Visa Center). The informative letter will outline the required documents and will instruct applicants to contact a visa issuing post. The letter will also contain relevant contact information.
V Visas will only be processed at current IV-issuing posts. Applicants must apply at the consular post designated in their I-130 petition. Posts will only process applicants who are residents of their consular districts or who are residents of their IV centralized region.
Because the V Visa functions as a substitute for an immigrant visa, much of the process is similar to that of obtaining an immigrant visa. Applicants may be asked to provide local documents establishing family relations and, in some cases, testimonials to establish the truth of these relationships. Applicants may also be asked to present evidence to establish that their health and criminal backgrounds meet standards sufficient to protect the American public.
Download Immigration Forms at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.