U.S immigrant visas have several categories and one of them is the Family Preference Immigrant Visas. These are visas for the family of U.S citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) who live in foreign countries. To qualify as family, the U.S Citizen or LPR must prove that they are immediate family members such as spouses, minor or adult children, parents, or siblings. Extended families such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others do not qualify.
There are many types of visas within the Family Preference visas and all denoted with the F prefix. One of these is the F-2 visa, which is for spouses, minor children, as well as adult children of LPRs in foreign countries. The F-2 visa has two categories:
- F-2A visa for spouses and minor children of LPRs
- F-2B visa for unmarried children over 21 years old of LPRs
The Family Preference visas have a limitation on their number. The F-2 visa has an allocated amount of 114,200 visas per year. This cap of visas is allocated in this way to the two categories:
- F-2A visa gets at least 79,940 visas or 70% of the total number of visas
- F-2B visa gets 34,260 visas or less than 30% of the total
This article will go through the F-2A visa, what it is, its requirements, application process, and other relevant details.
What Is the F-2A Visa?
The F-2A visa is otherwise known as the Visa for Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents. This visa is designed to allow LPRs to bring their spouses or minor children to the U.S permanently. Many families are separated when one of the members lives in the U.S while the others are in foreign countries, so the F-2A visa gives families the chance to reunite.
Around 80,000 F-2A visas are given in each year in the U.S to those who apply. Since this visa has a cap or a limitation on the number, there is high demand for them and the waiting times are quite long. However, after obtaining them, the family members of the LPRs will become permanent residents of the U.S and will be allowed to live in the U.S, work as well as study.
What Are the Requirements of the F-2A Visa?
The F-2A visa does not have extensive requirements for the family members to have. If you as the LPR want to have your spouse join you in the U.S, you must demonstrate that you are legally married to them by providing marriage certificates and other proof that you have a relationship. If you are just in a relationship and do not have a marriage certificate, then you are not allowed to petition to bring your partner to the U.S. The marriage has to be valid and legal.
If you want to bring your children on an F-2A visa, then you must prove your relationship to them as well. The following conditions apply:
- The children must be under 21 years old
- The children must be unmarried
- You must prove your relationship through submitting valid birth certificates or adoption documents
Besides the requirements of eligibility for the family members who will receive the F-2A visa, there are also requirements for the Lawful Permanent Resident who is petitioning for their family members, such as:
- The LPR must be at least 18 years old so that they can sign various documents and consent to conditions
- The LPR must be living in the U.S and have a registered address with the authorities that is within the U.S.
How to Apply for the F-2A Visa?
The F-2A application process is divided into two parts:
- The U.S Lawful Permanent Resident petitions for their spouse or minor children to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- When the petition is approved, the spouse or child must apply to a U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country
The application must begin in the U.S through the petition and by the LPR, otherwise it will not be accepted. If the spouse or child tries to apply for their F-2A visa without an approved petition, they will not be taken into consideration.
Filing the Petition
The U.S LPR must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to USCIS. The petition goes to the Department of Homeland Security as part of USCIS. There is a fee that the LPR must pay and it is set by USCIS.
The petition is then processed by USCIS and an answer on approval or denial is then sent to the petitioner. If the petition is denied, there will be a reason as to why it was denied so that the LPR can then adjust any problems and file again. If the petition is approved, the documents will then be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
The NVC will send the approval documents to the petitioner and to the applicant (spouse or child) with a case and an invoice identification number, as well as instructions on what to do next. The documents will also contain all information about what fees to pay and how to pay them.
Since there is a cap for the F-2A visa, the applicant will not be able to apply from their home countries if the date is not current. NVC takes into account the number of petitions for each year and if your petition exceeds the limit of up to 80,000 visas, then your application will be processed next year.
Applying for the F-2A visa
If your date is current, then the NVC will instruct you to begin the application process for the F-2A visa. The spouse or child must apply for the visa through a U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country. The petitioner does not have to file documents to USCIS for this part of the application process.
File Form DS-260
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application is the form which all applicants for immigrant visas must submit. It is done online and it will inquire on your personal and background information, as well as reasons why you are immigrating to the U.S. It will also ask you to write your NVC case number and invoice ID number. You must fill in the appropriate sections and then submit it. After submission, you will receive a confirmation number page which you must submit to NVC as part of your documents file.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
The medical examination and vaccinations are mandatory for all those immigrating to the U.S. You will have a set of documents about what check-ups you must complete and a list of the vaccinations. You must complete your examination at a licensed doctor who will sign your documents and state that you have taken the necessary vaccinations.
Compile documents file
Your documents file must contain all the necessary documentation which supports your case. You must convince the NVC and U.S Embassy or Consulate that you fulfill all the requirements and are eligible to get the F-2A visa. The file must contain the following:
- Your valid passport for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the U.S
- A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the U.S petitioner or LPR (applicant’s spouse or parent)
- Form DS-260 confirmation page
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two photographs according to the Photo Requirements
- If you are the spouse of the LPR, you must bring your marriage certificate
- If you are the child of the LPR, you must bring your birth certificate or adoption certificate
- Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
- If you have been previously married, you must bring divorce or certificates of death to prove the marriage was officially terminated
- If you served in the military, you must bring your military records
When NVC processes your documents and makes sure that you fulfill all the requirements, they will schedule your visa interview. The interview will be done at the U.S Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. The interviewer will ask questions about your background and then determine whether you will get the immigrant F-2A visa or not.
Receive NVC packet and travel to the U.S.
If the U.S Embassy approves your visa, then you are on your way to going to the U.S permanently. When they issue a visa on your passport, the Embassy will also give you a packet of documents which is sealed. You cannot open this package under any circumstances. You will need to take it with you when you travel to the U.S and an immigration official will open it. This is a requirement for you to be able to enter the U.S successfully.
How Much Does the F-2A Visa Cost?
There are various fees that the petitioner and the applicant must pay throughout the application process for the F-2A visa. The amounts vary and are set by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security and the individual U.S Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. The main categories of fees that must be paid are as follows:
- Form I-130 filing fee
- Processing fee for the Form DS-260
- Medical examination and vaccination fees
- Fees to get and translate all the supporting documents
- USCIS Immigrant Fee which you must pay after you receive your visa and before you travel to the U.S. USCIS will not issue you a Green Card without you paying this fee.
What Is the F-2A Visa Processing Time?
The processing time for the F-2A visa varies. Your date must become current for you to start the application procedure after your petition is approved. The NVC processes visas in chronological order, so it depends on how many applications were before you. This means that it usually takes a year or more for your date to become current and thus the processing time is quite long.
What if the Petitioning LPR got a U.S Citizenship While the F-2A Visa is Processing?
Since the F-2A processing time is quite long, the LPR in the meantime might get a U.S citizenship. This means that the spouse and children qualify for a different type of visa, which is the Immediate Relative (IR) visa. This visa does not have a cap so the processing is much faster.
The petitioner will then have a chance to file other petitions to process the visa.