USA and the UK
- What is the F4 Visa?
- Who is Eligible for the F4 Visa?
- What are the Sponsor Requirements for an F4 Visa?
- What is the F4 Visa Application Process?
- What is the Petition Stage?
- How to apply for an F4 Visa?
- Medical Examination and Required Vaccinations
- What are the Required Documents for an F4 Visa?
- The Visa Interview
- What are the fees for an F4 Visa?
- How long does it take for an F4 Visa to be processed?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the F4 Visa?
The F4 Visa is a Family-Based Green Card that allows U.S. citizens to reunite with their family members in the United States by granting them lawful permanent residence status. The F4 visa is a fourth category Preference Relative visa designed for the siblings of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21.
To be eligible to sponsor a sibling for an immigrant visa, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old and have a valid address in the United States. Siblings who become lawful permanent residents in the United States can work in the U.S. without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), obtain a social security number, and study freely.
Only 65,000 successful applicants can receive F4 Visa status each year. Due to the yearly cap, your permit can be issued only when your F4 Visa priority date becomes current.
Who is Eligible for the F4 Visa?
Applicants who would like to apply for the F4 immigrant visa must meet the following requirements:
- Have a sibling in the United States who holds citizenship status and has a valid address in the country
- Be able to prove their kinship through birth certificates or adoption documents
- Be living outside the U.S. at the time of your application
Since your family status does not affect F4 Visa eligibility, applicants can be married and have dependent minor children (children under 21 years old) who may be brought to the United States with F4 visa holders.
What are the Sponsor Requirements for an F4 Visa?
The U.S. sponsor must meet a few certain conditions in order to be eligible to be a sponsor. These are:
- Must be a U.S. citizen
- Must be at least 21-years-old
- Must be able to prove they have siblings in a foreign country through a birth certificate or adoption documents
- Must be living in the U.S. with a valid address
What is the F4 Visa Application Process?
The F4 visa application has two main stages which are the petition stage and the actual visa application stage. The full application process for family-based immigrant visas can be lengthy with many steps to be passed before completion. Generally, the visa process is as follows:
- Sponsor completes petition
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes the petition. If the petition is accepted, the USCIS will send the application and documents to the National Visa Center (NVC)
- The NVC sends the foreign applicant a packet of instructions and documents, detailing the next steps in the process
- Wait for your date to become current and then begin the F4 Visa application process
- Each individual will then complete Form DS-260
- Each applicant completes the medical examination and has required the vaccinations
- Compile required documents
- Attend visa interview at U.S. embassy/consulate
- Receive packet from NVC and travel to the United States
It should be noted that certain family preference visas can wait a long time for the applicant’s priority date to become current. For more information on the waiting time, visit the USCIS’s monthly visa bulletin website for the particular family preference category that you are applying for and consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can best advise you on the waiting time.
What is the Petition Stage?
The process of receiving an F4 Visa begins with the petition. The petition must be completed by the applicant’s sponsor in the United States. In order to do this, the sponsor must complete Form I-130 (Petition for an Alien Relative) on behalf of their sibling.
The petition will need to list the main person in the application. If the primary applicant has a spouse and minor children, each individual should also be listed on the application form.
After it is submitted, the petition will then be processed by the Department of Homeland Security. Within a few months, the petitioner will then receive a decision on their sponsorship application from the USCIS.
If the petition is accepted, the NVC will send the foreign applicant a package containing information and documents which will explain the next steps in the application process which must now be completed by the applicant (foreign sibling).
If the petition is rejected, the petitioner will be notified of the reasons for the rejection. They will have the chance to amend the petition as necessary, and can then resubmit it.
It should be noted that due to the yearly cap on F4 visas, the applicants will have to wait until their priority date is current before they can begin their visa application process.
How to apply for an F4 Visa?
Your F4 Visa process begins when your U.S sponsor files a petition for you to enter the U.S. This is known as the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), and it needs to be approved by the USCIS before you can submit your F4 application form.
The I-130 Petition is usually processed within a few months. When this happens, you will receive a package of instructions from the National Visa Center (NVC). However, all F4 applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. This means you can proceed only when your visa’s priority date becomes current.
When the NVC informs you that you can start your F4 application process, you can submit your Form DS-160. If you are traveling with your family, it is essential to include the details of your dependents in your application form.
All applicants who are applying to immigrate to the United States must comply with specific medical and vaccination requirements. This includes a complete medical check-up completed by an accredited professional.
If your application is successful, you will be summoned for an interview at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Your spouse and children must accompany you if they are also seeking permanent resident status.
Medical Examination and Required Vaccinations
Anyone applying to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States will be required to undergo a valid medical examination for their immigrant visa. This medical exam is necessary in order to determine if an individual is healthy enough to enter and live in the United States without posing as a medical risk to the general public. All applicants must also receive all necessary and required vaccinations in addition to passing the medical evaluation.
Any forms relating to the medical evaluation and required vaccinations will need to be signed by a licensed doctor. These signed forms will need to be included in the portfolio of evidence submitted for the fourth preference visa (F4 visa). Instructions as well as all information about what specific vaccinations are required will be provided in the NVC packet send to the visa applicant.
What are the Required Documents for an F4 Visa?
After you received notice of an approved petition and your priority date becomes current, you will then need to compile a number of documents to form your portfolio of evidence. This portfolio should consist of all the necessary documents that prove the family member meets the visa requirements.
The specific documents which need to be provided may differ depending on the specific case. Still, the following documents will definitely need to be included in the application:
- Valid passports for more than six months after your planned entry into the U.S. (This applies to all members of the family looking to reside in the United States)
- Confirmation pages of DS-260 forms
- A signed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support from the U.S. petitioner)
- Medical examination and vaccination documents
- Two photographs per individual
- Valid marriage certificate to prove marriage (if applicable)
- Birth or adoption certificates of children (if applicable)
- Criminal and court records and any police certificate
- If you have been married previously, you must provide a divorce certificate or a certificate of death to prove that the marriage was officially terminated
- If you served in the military, you must provide military records
All documents must be submitted to the NVC who will then determine whether you have met the requirements.
The Visa Interview
After the petition is approved and the applicant’s priority date has become current, the visa applicant will later be invited to a visa interview at their nearest U.S Embassy or Consulate in their home country. All members of the family who are attached to the immigrant visa application will also need to attend this interview.
At the interview, the immigration officer will take a look at your documents and application and then proceed to ask you a series of questions regarding your background, relationship with the U.S. sponsor, and reasons why you would like to immigrate to the United States. If the immigration officer is satisfied with your answers and applications, you will then be approved for an F4 visa. Your passport and the passports of the accompanying family members will be stamped with the appropriate visa, and you will be free to travel to the U.S. with your family.
In addition to the visa stamp, you will also receive a package from the Embassy which you must take with you when you travel to the United States. You need to give this package, unopened, to the immigration official when you arrive in the United States. It is very important that this package remains sealed. If opened, you and your family could be denied entry into the United States.
What are the fees for an F4 Visa?
The fees for the F4 Visa will differ depending on the individual’s personal circumstances and the embassy through which they have applied for the F4 Visa.
The general fees which need to be taken into consideration are:
- I-130 petition application fee: $535 (this is often paid by the U.S. sponsor when they submit the petition)
- DS-260 application processing fee: $325
- Affidavit of Support processing fee: $120
- Fees for any certified translation of your documents: costs will vary
- Medical examination and vaccination fees: costs will vary
- USCIS Immigrant Fee: $220
It should be noted that the USCIS immigrant fee should be paid as soon as the visa is issued to avoid any delays in receiving your green card. This fee pays for the cost of processing the permanent resident card. Without payment, the applicant will not receive their permanent residence card.
How long does it take for an F4 Visa to be processed?
Unfortunately, the processing time for an F4 Visa application can be extremely long and it can vary widely depending on the nationality of the applicant/s. Immigration law states that of these 65,000 visas, that no more than 7% of total visas can be issued from one country. If there are no more visas available for your category at the time of your application, you must wait for the following year.
F4 Visas are processed in chronological order, which means there could be many visa applications to be processed before yours. For high population countries where the demand for immigrant visas is high and the availability is low, there are long waiting lines and bigger backlogs for the USCIS to process. Therefore, a person seeking immigration to the United States from countries such as China, India, Mexico, and the Phillippines often wait years for their priority date to become current.
For those who are applying from countries where the demand is low, their F4 Visa applications may be processed relatively quickly, usually within a year. However, in more extreme cases, it can take up to 10 years for an F4 Visa to be processed.
For more information on the wait time for application, applicants can visit the USCIS’s monthly Visa Bulletin which shows the latest priority dates and availability for the F4 visa.
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If you have other family members who you would like to join you in the United States, they can apply for one of the family-based visas. This category of nonimmigrant permits is designed for the following eligible categories:
At IAS, our attorneys can offer professional advice on different immigration issues. One of our main areas of expertise is family immigration, including F4 Visa applications.
As a part of our advice services, your case will be followed by one of our best lawyers. He or she will discuss your case to understand your needs and help you get your Family Visa.
Our attorneys always do their best to avoid delays in every application and are experienced in offering different alternatives in the case of visa denials.
We can also help you gather the supporting documents that you need to prove your relationship with your siblings. Depending on your circumstances, we will find the best way to make your application successful.
Get in touch today at +1 844 290 6312 to speak with our experts to learn more about our immigration advice packages.
The F4 visa will grant the recipient permanent resident status, aka a green card. This green card will allow the visa holder to stay in the U.S. permanently if they choose to do so.
After living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for a significant amount of time (at least 5 years of continuously living in the United States), the green cardholder will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.