Extension of V Status Now Possible for Those Turning 21
February 11, 2005

In 2001, the U.S. Congress made available V visas for spouses and under 21 year old children of U.S. lawful permanent residents provided: a) the permanent resident family member filed a Form I-130 on their behalf prior to December 21, 2000 and b) their petitions had been pending more than 3 years. The purpose of the provision was to allow U.S. permanent residents to be reunited with their spouses and young children while they wait out visa availability in the Family Second Preference A immigrant visa category – a wait that sometimes can extend beyond 5 to 7 years, especially when the child turns 21 years of age.

Pursuant to the program, thousands of eligible spouses and under 21 year old children of permanent residents have entered the U.S. on V visas, or if already in the U.S., were granted V visa status – allowing such family members to live and work in the U.S. while awaiting visa availability.

A big question confronting many such families living in the U.S. in V status, was how to deal with the problem of maintaining V visa status for their children who would be turning 21 years of age. Until recently, many such children were eligible to extend their V status so long as they were under 21 years of age, and as soon as they reached 21, they no longer had an avenue of extending their V status and living legally in the U.S.

All of this has changed thanks to a recent federal Court of Appeals decision handed down last October. The court invalidated the age-out provisions of the V visa regulations and ruled that those children residing in the U.S. on a V visa should not be left without the option of extending their status solely because they turned 21. As a result of this decision, Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) headquarters in Washington, D.C. in recent weeks was prompted to issue a policy memorandum declaring that the principle set forth in the court’s ruling would be applied nationwide and not just to the geographic region under the court’s jurisdiction.

The bottom line: individuals who recently had their applications to extend their V status denied solely because they turned 21 years of age (or who chose not to even apply because of perceived ineligibility), now are eligible to resubmit their paperwork and have an opportunity to maintain their V status while awaiting immigrant visa availability. Additionally, others who will be turning 21 years of age will no longer face the prospect of having their extension requests denied.

Copyright © 2005-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois