The United States government offers a temporary visa to spouses or unmarried children (under 21 years old) of immigrants who currently live and work in the country. This visa is called the V visa, and allows lawful permanent residents (LPRs, also known as green card holders) to maintain their family structure and unity while the immigration process runs its course.
V visas were created in 2000 by the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act. The goal of the act is to provide an alternate way for immigrants to speed up their citizenship applications. Prior to the passage of the LIFE Act, immigrants could only remain in the U.S. on a temporary work visa for a specific period of time. If they overstayed this period of time, they would not be allowed to apply for permanent residency. The immigrants would be required to return to their home countries before they could apply for a green card.
Those individuals that are eligible for a V visa must have filed Form I-130, known as an immigrant petition, on or before December 21, 2000, and be sponsored by a legal resident. With this visa, the families can stay together in the U.S. The spouse is allowed to work and children are permitted to go to school. With a V visa, international travel is also allowed.
While the V visa is available to those who satisfy these conditions, those who missed the deadline of December 21, 2000, have no relief. Currently many spouses and children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents are waiting for five to six years for immigrant visas without being allowed to live with their spouses or parents in the U.S. However, the U.S. government offers many different visa options for immigrants and their families. They are all worth investigating to determine eligibility and whether applying for a different visa would expedite the immigration process.