“Immediate Family” Definition for G, A, C-3, and NATO Dependent Visas Amended

The Department of Sate (DOS) issued a final rule, effective 12/7/2016, that amends the definition of ‘‘immediate family” for purposes of G, A, C-3, and NATO visa classifications. The rule narrows the definition of immediate relative with respect to sons and daughters: generally only unmarried sons and daughters residing with the principal who are under the age of 21, or under the age of 23 and in full-time attendance as students in post-secondary educational institutions will continue to be considered immediate relatives. (An exception remains for dependent unmarried sons and daughters if mentally or physically disabled.) The rule also clarifies for purposes of G-4 visas that the international organization employing the principal alien must recognize individuals as immediate family members to be eligible for derivative U.S. visa status. This is similar to the current requirement that a sending government must recognize an individual as immediate family. Because the Department of State only accepts children under the age of 21 (or under 23 if in school) for the purposes of privileges and immunities, this change makes DOS policy and practice consistent. The rule is good news and provides greater visa mobility for some older G-4 (and the other) dependent students who can now, for example, change to F-1 status and upon graduation obtain OPT work authorization. However, for dependents who have gotten into trouble with the criminal laws, for example, and are now no longer eligible for G, A, C-3 or NATO visa status, they will have to apply for waivers of inadmissibility when they apply for other visa statuses.


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