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Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
April 2, 2001

Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman

State Department Issuing New "V" Visas Overseas

The U.S. State Department's overseas consular posts started issuing new "V" category visas on April 1, 2001. Those eligible to apply for V status are certain spouses and minor children of Legal Permanent Residents ("green card holders") in the United States. In March 2001, the State Department sent informational letters to those applicants who might be eligible to apply for the new V visa. The letters asked interested applicants to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence to inquire about local application procedures.

The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE), signed into law on December 21, 2000, created a number of immigration benefits, including a new "V" visa and status. The immigrant visa category for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents (F2A) is numerically limited by statute each year. As a result, these immediate family members of LPRs previously had to wait many years for availability of an immigrant visa number before they could join their families in the United States. The LIFE Act effectively limits that period of family separation to no more than three years. Those issued V visas will be allowed to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants, reunite with family members in the U.S., and wait in the U.S. for the process of legal immigration to be completed.

To be eligible to apply for the new V visa, an overseas applicant must have had an immigration petition filed on his/her behalf by the legal permanent resident family member with INS on or before December 21, 2000, the date of enactment of the LIFE Act. In addition, the applicant must have been waiting for an available visa number for at least three years since the petition (Form I-130) was filed. Persons eligible for "V" status already living in the United States must wait until the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) publishes "V" regulations in the Federal Register before applying for "V" nonimmigrant status and work authorization. Those persons should contact INS for processing information.

The LIFE Act also created a second new nonimmigrant visa for spouses of U.S. citizens and minor children of those spouses, the K3 and K4 visas. At this time, overseas consular posts will not be able to issue these visas because the means of meeting all of the statutory requirements involving additional petitions by those seeking to qualify have not been fully worked out with INS. We will issue additional information about the new K3 and K4 visas as soon as it becomes available.

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