V-Visa Regulations and Litigations

This article covers details and developments with the V-visa since our December 21, 2001 article posted at RREEVES.COM.

On December 21, 2000 President William Clinton signed into law the provisions of the LIFE Act. Regulations were later issued in September 2001 which allow for issuance of “V” visas. V visas are one of the best ways to quickly obtain the arrival of a spouse and family of a legal permanent resident or “Green Card” holder.

Spouses and their children who are under the age of twenty one years of age are eligible for this benefit if they have been kept waiting more than three years for issuance of their I-130 visas and travel documents from the foreign consulate or embassy. The other important requirement is that the I-130 spousal petition must have been filed prior to December 21, 2000.

Why file for a “V” visa? There are several important “V” visa benefits. V-visa holders may obtain work authorization, V-visa holders may also travel on multiple entry visas, and most importantly V-visa holders do not have to wait for an I-130 approval or for their priority date to become current to enter the United States.

How do I file? There have been multiple reports about trouble with consular filings of V-visa applications. Consular officials often demand proof of parentage, local police certificates of police records. It is important to explore with your attorney the advantages of filing for the V-Visa in the United States.

How long does the V-visa last? V-visas may terminate if the holder is no longer eligible for or withdraws his or her immigrant visas. V-visas also terminate for V2 children if they become married or reach 21 years of age. This is an extremely important point for older children as they may “age-out” of their V-visa status while traveling outside the United States. Or they could unknowingly age out and then depart the United States.

This can result in severe consequences as the individual will not be re-admitted until his or her visa numbers become current, or could even suffer a bar to re-entry based on unauthorized presence in the United States in expired V-visa status.

V-2 children will be issued v-visas up until the day before they reach 21 years of age. Under this regime a V-2 can lawfully enter the United States and will still be able to adjust based on their lawful entry and pre-existing petition under existing waiver provisions for any accrued unlawful presence..

Recently Reeves & Associates has filed an Federal District Court case on behalf of several V-visa holders who reached the age of twenty-one. This case has attacked the age-out regulations which deny benefits to V-visa holders as unconstitutional, and in conflict with the LIFE ACT provisions which created the V-visa. This case is currently being heard by the 9th Circuit court of appeals and a decision is expected by the end of this year.

If victorious Reeves & Associates expects to bring immediate relief in the form of work authorization and travel privileges for the hundreds of V2 visa holders who are now trapped in the United States and unable to work due to their reaching 21 years of age. This will eliminate this sub-class of V-visa holders who are in uncertain status after reaching the age of twenty-one and before they can file for adjustment of status once their priority dates become current.

As with most visa options, the issues surrounding the benefits and drawbacks of the V-visa are complex, and must be considered in the context of each individual applicants circumstances. It is highly advisable whether you decide to file for a V-visa in the United States or abroad to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. He or she will weigh your options, the potential risks, costs and waiting periods and help you make the right decision.