In order to address the severe backlogs on the availability of visas for families, the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act provides a new V visa to allow the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents, who have been waiting more than 3 years for a green card, to enter the United States and be granted work authorization. Because these individuals are intending immigrants, there was previously no way for them to legally come to the United States, even for a short visit. By creating the V visa, the law grants those immediate family members a legal status and work authorization in the United States.
The spouses or children must meet the following requirements for the V Visa:
1. The sponsoring permanent resident must have filed an immigration petition (I-130) for the spouse or child on or before December 21, 2000; and
2. The petition must either have been pending with the USCIS for 3 years or more, or if the petition has been approved, the spouse or minor child must have been waiting at least 3 years for the immigration quota.
Furthermore, the V visa will not only benefit spouses and minor children who are currently outside the Unites States and have been waiting for more than 3 years but also benefits those who satisfy the 3-year requirement and are in the United States. In other words, the latter can apply to change status to the new V category. Even those who have been out of status in the United States may obtain V status. Thus, they will not be subject to removal if they are eligible to claim V visa benefits. Likewise, a V visa applicant who would otherwise be subject to the 3-year or 10-year bar for previous violations of immigration law may obtain a V visa to come to the U.S. Once the V visa holder has a relative petition approved on his or her behalf and a current priority date, he or she can adjust status under 245(a) or, 245(i) if qualified.
If the immigration petition or adjustment of status is ultimately denied, the V visa holder loses his V status and must either leave the U.S. or change to another nonimmigrant status within 30 days of the denial.
Only those whose immigration petition has been pending for 3 years and who filed their before December 21, 2000 may benefit from the V visa. So V visas are a temporary visa and can do nothing to reserve the benefit if you missed the December 21, 2000 deadline.
(Updated 10/10/12 by NT)