The Family Preference Immigrant Visas are US immigrant visas to reunite families in the US. You can get these types of Green Cards if you have an immediate relative who is a US citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident in the US. Immediate relatives are your spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are extended relatives and do not qualify for these types of Green Cards.
The Family Green Cards are highly beneficial to unite families, but they all have a set number of visas that can be given within a year. The US has determined the cap for each visa and they are given in chronological order. So if your application exceeds the number of visas that are given for that year, your visa will be processed in the next periods.
What Is the F-3 Visa?
The F-3 visa is given to the children of US citizens who are in foreign countries. This visa does not apply to the children who are not married, but is only given to married children of US citizens. Additionally, the spouse and minor children (unmarried and under 21 years old) qualify to get the F-3 visa too.
Since the Family Green Card Visas have a limited number of visas per year, the F-3 visa is only given to 23,400 people in one year. If the limit for one year is reached, then the other visas will be given in chronological order in the next years.
With an F-3 visa, the married children of US citizens can live in the US permanently with their spouse and minor children. They can work legally without a need for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and with only needing a Social Security Number, they can enroll in studies, as well as travel abroad and enter the US anytime they need to.
What Are the Requirements For the F-3 Visa?
The F-3 visa as with many other family visas does not have extensive requirements. In order to be eligible for the F-3 visa, you must fulfill these conditions:
- You must have a parent who is a US citizen and prove it through valid birth certificates or adoption documents
- You must be over 21 years old
- You must be married and prove it through a valid marriage certificate
As for the US citizen who wants to bring their adult child in the US permanently, you must fulfill these conditions:
- You must be a US citizen
- You must have an adult child in a foreign country and prove it through birth certificates or adoption documents
- You must be living in the US and have a valid US address
How to Apply For the F-3 Visa?
The application process for the F-3 visa is long and has many steps. The process is initiated by the US citizen who must petition to the US authorities to obtain permission to have their adult child, the spouse, and minor children to come to the US. If the petition is approved, then the child and their family in the foreign country can start the application process. This means that the application is divided in two parts:
- The US Citizen petitions for their adult child, spouse, and minor children to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- When the petition is approved, the adult child and their family must apply to a US Embassy or Consulate in their home country
You cannot get the F-3 visa if the petition to USCIS has not been approved. You will not be allowed to apply and cannot be eligible for this type of Green Card.
Filing the Petition
The US citizen starts the application process by filing the petition to USCIS. The petition is filed by sending a complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to USCIS. The petition goes through the US Department of Homeland Security and is processed after the US citizen has paid the fee. It is important that the US citizen list their adult child’s spouse and minor children (if applicable) in the petition too. This will ensure that the whole family of the US citizen’s child will be eligible to get the F-3 visa and go to the US.
The petition is then processed by USCIS and they respond within a few months, depending on the workload. If the petition is denied, the reasons for denial will be given so that the US citizen can then adjust the petition and file it again. If the petition is approved, then the documents will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
The NVC sends a package of documents and instructions to the applicants in the foreign country. The documents contain your case number and invoice ID number which will be used to apply for the actual visa at the US Embassy as well as pay all the necessary fees.
However, due to the cap in the number of F-3 visas, you will not be able to apply for the visa even if your petition is approved if your priority date is not current. This means that if there are many other applications before you which pass the limit of the F-3 visas, then you will have to wait for your turn. When your date is current, you will be notified by the NVC and can start step two of the application process.
Applying for the F3 visa
When the NVC notifies you that your priority date has become current, then you can use the instructions in the document package you received from them to begin your application process to get the F-3 visa. Since the petition lists you as the adult child of the US citizen as well as your spouse and minor children, each individual must submit a visa application. The application is done at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.
File Form DS-260
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application is the form which all applicants for immigrant visas must submit. You, your spouse, and children must each submit a DS-260 Form. The form is completed online and you will need to give detailed information about your background and reasons for immigration. You can access your DS-260 Form by entering the NVC case number that you got in the instructional package. When you submit the form, you will get a confirmation page and number which you must then later send to the NVC as part of your documents file.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
Anyone who is planning to immigrate and live in the US must go through a medical examination and get the necessary vaccines. In this case, you, your spouse, and minor children must get the required check-ups at a licensed doctor and the vaccines. The documents must be signed by the licensed doctor and you must submit them as part of your documents file to the NVC.
Compile documents file
Your documents file must contain all the necessary documentation which supports your case. You must convince the NVC and US Embassy or Consulate that you and your family fulfill all the requirements and are eligible to get the F-3 visa. The file must contain the following:
- Your valid passports for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the US (your passport, your spouse’s, and minor children’s)
- A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the US petitioner (applicant’s parent)
- Form DS-260 confirmation page
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two US visa photos per individual according to the Photo Requirements
- Your valid marriage certificate to prove your marriage
- Birth certificates or adoption documents of your children
- 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
Once you collect all your required documents for the F3 visa, you can look at health insurance options.
After processing your supporting documents and determining that you fulfill all the requirements, the NVC will schedule your interview with the US Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. You, your spouse, and minor children must attend the interview. You will be asked about your background and the official will determine whether you can get the F-3 visa to join your parent in the US.
Receive NVC packet and travel to the US.
If your visa is approved and you and your family get the F-3 visa, it will be stamped on your passports. You will also receive a package which you must bring with you when you travel to the US to enter for the first time with your immigrant visas. You must not open the package under any circumstances. Only the immigration officials at the US port of entry are allowed to open it and determine whether you are eligible to enter the US or not.
How Much Does the F-3 Visa Cost?
There are various fees that the petitioner and the applicant must pay throughout the application process for the F-3 visa. The amounts vary and are set by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security and the individual US 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 US. USCIS will not issue you a Green Card without you paying this fee.
How Long Is the F-3 visa Processing Time?
Because there are caps for the Family Green Cards, the processing times may be quite long. For the F-3 visa, the processing time can range from 1 year up to extreme cases of 10 years. This is because there are so many people applying that they cannot all be processed at the same time.
Other Types of Family Based Green Cards
The Family Green Cards are denoted with the prefix F. There are four types of these visas:
- F-1 visa is given to unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens and their minor children (Not to be confused with the F-1 Student Visa)
- F-2 visa is given to the spouse and minor children (F-2A visa), or adult children (F-2B visa) of US Lawful Permanent Residents
- F-3 visa is given to married children of US citizens who will go to the US with their spouses and minor children
- F-4 visa is given to siblings of US citizens who will go to the US with their spouses and minor children. For this visa to apply, the US citizen must be at least 21 years old.