USA and the UK
What is the F3 Visa?
The F3 Third Category Visa is one of the Family Based Green Cards, which is designed for married children of U.S. citizens who are at least 21-years-old. The F3 Visa is classed as a Preference Relative visa, along with the F2A, F2B and F4 Visas.
The F3 Visa enables the whole family of the U.S. citizen’s child to join them in the United States, which makes it a particularly sought-after Preference Relative visa.
Every fiscal year, the USCIS releases a limited number of these permits, capped at 23,400 per year. Anyone who receives an F3 visa will be able to live, work and study in the U.S. freely.
Am I Eligible for an F3 Visa?
The F3 Visa is available to married children of U.S. citizens who are over 21-years old. The requirements which need to be fulfilled are not particularly extensive, but any applicant must meet the following three fundamental requirements:
- Must have a parent who is a U.S. citizen. This needs to be proved through a birth certificate or adoption documents
- Must be over 21-years-old
- Must be married and have evidence of the marriage through a marriage certificate
What are the Sponsor Requirements?
The first stage of the F3 Visa application process involves a sponsor completing a petition for their child to join them in the United States.
In order for someone to be eligible as a sponsor, they must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Have an adult child in a foreign country, which is proved by a birth certificate or adoption documents
- Must be living in the U.S. with a valid American address
What is the Application Process for an F3 Visa?
The application process is a lengthy one which typically takes some time to complete.
Usually, an F3 Visa application will follow these steps:
- The sponsor completes petition and sends it to the USCIS
- USCIS processes petition and, if accepted, will send the application and documents to the National Visa Center (NVC)
- NVC sends a packet of instructions and documents to the foreign applicants with detailed instructions on the next steps in the process
- Wait for an application spot to open which will then start the visa application process
- Complete Form DS-260
- Complete medical examination and take required vaccinations
- Compile required documents
- Attend visa interview
- Receive NVC packet and travel to the United States
The IAS can help you with the full application process for an F3 visa. Our highly experienced immigration attorneys are here to help you. Call us now on +1 844 290 6312 for more information.
What Happens During the Petition Stage?
As mentioned previously, the petition stage is the first step in the whole F3 visa application process. The sponsor must complete the petition Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). The sponsor must also pay a fee of $535.
It is vitally important that the sponsor includes their child’s spouse and children in the petition if they wish to join the sponsor’s child in the U.S..
The sponsor must send their petition to the USCIS. The petition then goes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where it will be processed once the sponsor has paid the fee.
If the petition is rejected, the sponsor will be notified of the reasons for the rejection. They will be given the opportunity to adjust the petition to account for any mistakes and add any required information. Then, the sponsor can resubmit the petition.
If the petition is accepted, the documents will be sent to the NVC. The NVC will then send the foreign applicants a packet of information and documents with full instructions on the next steps in the process.
F3 Visa Application Process
Once the petition stage has been completed, the next stage is the visa application process. However, you might not be able to begin the application process immediately. If the F3 Visa quota has already been reached, you will need to wait until the following year for the visa application process to begin.
Once your date is current (meaning there is no backlog, you are at the front of the line and a spot is available) you will be informed by the NVC and the process can start. The most important thing to keep in mind at this point is that each family member will need to complete a visa application (not just the U.S. citizen’s child).
Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application) will need to be completed. In this form, you will need to give detailed information about your background and outline the reasons for the applicant’s desire to immigrate to the U.S.
When you have completed the form, a confirmation page and reference number will be displayed. This page must be printed out and included with the other required documents.
What do I Need to Know About the Medical Examination and Vaccinations?
Anyone who is immigrating to the United States must take medical examinations and have certain vaccinations. Full details on both the medical examination and the vaccinations will be provided in the packet of information from the NVC.
The medical examination and vaccinations must be taken by every member of the family who wishes to immigrate to the United States. All medical documents must be signed by a licenced doctor.
What are the Required Documents for an F3 Visa Application?
The required documents for the F3 Visa application are very similar to the other Family Preference visas.
Your document file must contain:
- Valid passports for yourself, your spouse and your children which are valid for more than six months after your planned entry to the U.S.
- Form DS-260 confirmation pages
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- A signed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support from the U.S. sponsor)
- Two U.S. visa photos for each individual
- A valid marriage certificate
- Birth certificates or adoption documents of your children
- Any court or criminal records and/or police certificate
- If you were previously married, a divorce certificate or certificate of death to prove that the marriage has been terminated
- Military records if you have served in the military.
Any documents which are not in English must be translated by an accredited translator.
Once you have collected all your documents together and taken all necessary medical examinations and vaccinations, the next step is to send your document file to the NVC.
The NVC will process your application and consider whether your application meets all the necessary requirements. If the NVC are satisfied, you will be invited for an interview.
What Happens During the Interview?
The interview is a vital part of the F3 Visa application process and is the last stage in the process. The NVC will arrange for the interview to take place at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
The interviewer will decide whether to approve or reject the F3 Visa application. If it is approved, the passport of each family member will be stamped with the F3 visa. You will also be given a package from the NVC which you will need to give to the U.S. immigration official when you land in the United States. You must not open this package before you give it to the U.S. immigration official.
How Much Does the F3 Visa Application Cost?
Anybody applying for the F3 visa needs to take into account the following costs:
- Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
- Processing fee for the Form DS-260
- Medical examination and vaccination fees
- Fees for translation of documents
- USCIS immigrant fee. This needs to be paid after you receive your visa and before you travel to the U.S.
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Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how long it will take to process an F3 Visa application. You might need to wait some time after the petition stage before your visa application date becomes current. Generally, you can expect to wait at least a year before the application is processed. In some cases, applications can take up to ten years to process.
Yes, in the vast majority of cases any person with an F3 Visa/Green Card will be able to work in the United States without restrictions.
To be eligible for an F3 Visa status, at least one of your parents must be a U.S. citizen. In addition, you must be living outside the U.S. at the time of your application. You must also:
- Be at least 21 years or older. Children who are younger and unmarried may instead petition for a Second Preference F2A Visa;
- Be married. You need to prove the authenticity of your relationship by providing a valid marriage certificate.
- Have a U.S. parent who has a valid address in the country.
As a general, the spouse and minor children of an eligible F3 Visa holder can apply for the same permit.
Your F3 Visa application process begins when one of your parents living in the U.S. petition for your permission to enter the country. If your Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) is approved, then you can submit your visa application form.
If you are traveling with your spouse and minor children, their information must be included in your forms. This means you must submit further documentation, such as your marriage record and the birth certificate of your children.
It must also be noted that the USCIS will start processing your petition only after you have paid your application fee.
Everyone wishing to immigrate in the U.S. and settle as a permanent resident must go through a medical examination. If you are traveling with your family, your spouse and children must get the required check-ups and vaccines as well. These medical examinations must be performed by a professional accredited by the USCIS.
At this point, you and your family will be summoned for an interview. This will take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. The consular officer will ask you several questions to determine your eligibility.
Along with your F3 application form, you must submit further documents to support your case. Most importantly, you must convince the USCIS that both you and your family meet all the requirements set by the law.
A successful supporting portfolio must contain the following:
- Your passport. It must be valid for more than six months after the date you plan to enter the U.S.;
- Your family members’ passports;
- A Form I-846 (Affidavit of Support) signed by your U.S. sponsor. This is needed to confirm that you can sustain yourself financially;
- Medical examination and vaccination documents;
- Two photos for each person listed on your petition;
- A valid marriage certificate (and certificates of divorce in the case of previous marriages);
- The birth certificate or adoption documents of your eligible children (who must be unmarried and under the age of 21);
- Court and criminal records of each person applying for the visa;
- Your military records (if applicable);
- Certificate of previous divorces (if applicable).
Once you U.S. sponsor has submitted the I-130 Petition, the USCIS will start reviewing your eligibility. You should receive your response within a few months.
If your petition is rejected, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for the denial. Otherwise, the NVC will send you the instructions you need to proceed with your application.
However, you will not be able to apply for your permit as soon as your petition is approved. Due to the annual cap, you must wait until your F3 Visa priority date becomes current. In other words, that will be the time when a visa for your category will be available.
Every year, the USCIS receives a significant amount of petitions. When the maximum number of available permits is reached, the remaining applicants must wait for the following year. This means that it is impossible to estimate what your F3 Visa processing time will be. Depending on the number of applications that need to be processed before yours, it may take from a few months to several years to get your visa.
Like other family-based permits, your F3 Visa status cannot be issued until your priority date is reached. Every year, the number of applicants increases significantly, making more challenging to get your visa. For this reason, you must ensure that your application is successful and free of mistakes so that it can be approved as soon as it is processed.
If you wish to submit your petition for an F3 Visa Category, one of our attorneys can remove the stress from your application process. Your dedicated adviser will:
- Review your case to determine your eligibility;
- Periodically check the F3 Visa bulletin;
- Help you gather your supporting documents;
- Liaise with the USCIS in the case of delays in your application.
To learn more about our services, call us on +1844 290 6312 or ask for a free call back from our staff.