V Visa: Very Many More Admitted Very Quickly

By Jessica M. Vaughan on May 8, 2013

In addition to the instant amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens and their families and huge new guestworker programs, the Schumer-Rubio bill will change the rules to allow more than 1.4 million family visa applicants to bypass the current waiting list and be admitted immediately and begin working, even before they are approved for a green card. This little-noticed re-write of the V visa rules will also admit another 2.9 million immigrant visa hopefuls to enter the country as temporary visitors. Far from a gradual "backlog" clearing exercise, these changes will bring in large numbers of new job-seekers to compete with American citizens, established legal residents, new guestworkers, and the newly legalized.

The change is found in Section 2308 of the bill, on "V Non-immigrant Visas". The V visa was originally created to allow the admission of eligible spouses and children of green card holders (a.k.a. legal permanent residents or LPRs) who had been waiting at least three years for their number to come up.

The Schumer-Rubio bill scraps the old V visa criteria and replaces them to benefit an entirely new group. First, the original V visa beneficiaries, who numbered about 220,000 at last count, will be admitted immediately off the waiting list, on par with the spouses and children of U.S. citizens, and without numerical limitations.

The new V-1 visas will be offered to three categories of family visa applicants. All of these are currently subject to numerical limits, but the limits and waiting list become irrelevant when they are admitted on the V-1 visa. The beneficiaries are:

  1. Unmarried sons and daughters of citizens;

  2. Unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs;

  3. Married sons and daughters of citizens, under 31.

These applicants are entitled to work permits upon admission. They will be processed similarly to immigrant visa applicants, with pro forma fingerprint and medical screenings.

Based on the State Department's annual count, as of November 1, 2012, I estimate that there were about 1,190,755 people in these three categories. (We have exact counts for categories (1) and (2), but not for (3). For that category, I simply apportioned one-half the actual count to the over-31 group and one-half to the under-31 group, because the State Department's count does not show ages.)

The new V-2 visas will be offered to two categories:

  1. Married sons and daughters of citizens, over 31;

  2. Siblings of U.S. citizens.

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The V-2 applicants cannot receive a work permit, but are authorized to stay up to 60 days each year. However, because there is virtually no visa compliance enforcement, we can expect that many will not return home — why should they? After all, they have already discovered that following the rules is not rewarded (many have been on the waiting list for several years) and overstaying is a better deal.

Using the State Department's count, I estimate there are 2,888,567 in the V-2 category.

Under longstanding policy, those applicants who are waiting in line for an immigrant visa cannot easily qualify for a non-immigrant visa, because they are at high risk for overstay. This bill entirely abandons the idea of an immigrant visa waiting list and controlled rates of admission within limits, and simply admits everyone at will on the fig leaf of a “non-immigrant” visa.

These changes would go into effect on October 1 following enactment of the bill. So potentially as early as October of this year, 1.4 million people could become eligible to be admitted as V-1s on the path to a green card, and another 2.9 million could become eligible to be admitted as V-2 visitors.