Family-Based Visas

A nonimmigrant V visa allows a lawful permanent resident (LPR), also known as a green card holder, to bring his spouse and children to the United States. A green card serves as proof that its holder, an LPR, has been officially granted immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and take employment in the US.

V visas are usually issued abroad at US embassies and consulates. However, individuals already in the US may be allowed to obtain "V" status without having to leave the country and apply abroad. You must file several application forms and pay a fee before your V visa status is approved. Individuals with V-1, V-2 or V-3 visa status are eligible to apply for work authorization so they can legally work in the US while waiting for permanent resident status.

V Visa Categories

There are three V visa categories:

  • A V-1 visa is for someone who is lawfully married to a LPR
  • A V-2 visa is for an unmarried child (under the age of 21) of an LPR
  • A V-3 visa is for an unmarried child (under the age of 21) of a V-1 or V-2 visa holder or applicant


The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) allow spouses and children of LPRs to come to the US on V nonimmigrant visas. The spouse and child can remain in the US while they wait until they are able to apply for lawful permanent residence status or for an immigrant visa, instead of having to wait outside the US as the previous law required. The purpose of the LIFE Act is to keep families together during the process of immigrating to the US.

V Visa Eligibility

LPRs' spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for V visas if the following conditions are met:

  • LPR petitioner must have filed an I-130 immigrant visa petition on or before December 21, 2000
  • Priority date is at least three years old
  • Priority date is not current
  • Applicant has not already had an immigrant visa interview or been scheduled for an interview
  • Petition is not already at an embassy or consulate abroad
  • Applicant is otherwise eligible as an immigrant

The priority date is the date the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received the petition

Contacting US Embassy or Consulate

The National Visa Center sends a letter to potential V visa applicants and the petitioner. This letter tells the potential V visa applicants to contact an embassy or consulate to apply and gives information about setting up a V visa appointment.

The petitioner will be asked for the following information when contacting the embassy or consulate:

  • Full name as on the petition and passport
  • Date and place of birth
  • Nationality
  • Mailing address and telephone number

Applying for a Visa

The V visa applicant must contact the embassy or consulate to apply for a V visa. The consular officer notifies the applicant about specific requirements of the visa and schedules an interview. During the interview process, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan is taken.

Generally, the following are required:

  • Current, valid passport
  • Two copies of Form DS-156
  • DS-3052 nonimmigrant V visa application form
  • Police certificates from all places lived in since the age of 16
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate for spouse
  • Death and divorce certificates from any previous spouse for both the petitioner and the applicant
  • Medical examination (except vaccinations)
  • Proof that the LPR petitioner is maintaining permanent resident status in the US
  • Two nonimmigrant visa photos
  • Proof of financial support, such as Form I-134 Affidavit of Support
  • Nonimmigrant visa application fee

The consular officer may ask for additional information. Any documents in foreign languages should be translated.

Derivative Status for Children

Children get derivative status from a parent's I-130 immigrant visa petition. It's not necessary that they have a separate petition to apply for a V visa. However, if the USCIS has not approved the petition, the children are not listed in the Department of State's computer as eligible for a V visa. These children must prove their relationship to the principal applicant for a V visa when they apply for a visa. Children must be unmarried and under 21 years of age in order to apply for V visas.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can a V visa holder work in the United States?
  • How long does it take to get a V visa?
  • How much does it cost to get a V visa?
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