USA and the UK
Is it faster to apply for the F1 or F2B visa?
Currently, it is faster to apply for the F2B visa than the F1 visa. However, this can change, depending on the progress of the various visas which can be viewed in the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin.
A key consideration on which route is faster is whether your sponsor is an American citizen or an American Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). A citizen has the highest individual status in the US and cannot be deported to another country, while permanent residents remain the citizen of their original home country.
In some circumstances, the LPR can be deported, and there are visa restrictions on the family members they can bring to the US. However, US citizens do not have a visa quota of family members who wish to apply to come to the US.
The US Department of State has stated if you file a petition for your relative to come to the United States on the F2B visa while you were a permanent resident, but you have since been granted citizenship, your national visa centre will update the visa category from F2B to F1.
However, because the F2B wait time can be shorter, it is possible to opt out of this.
What influences visa wait times?
There are a number of factors that influence visa wait times, and this is also true for the F21 and F2B visa.
In order to come to the United States on a Family Preference visa, your US-based sponsor must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. When the petition is submitted, it joins many other thousands of applications already in the queue.
There are strict quotas for each visa category, and no single country is permitted to have more than 7% of the total applications for that year.
It could take a long time for your application to reach the top of the queue, and if your petition is successful, you may then submit your visa application. This filing date is known as your priority date, and when your application is being reviewed, this is known as the date becoming current.
Under the quota system, there are 23,400 F1 visas available each year, 114,200 F2 visas (of which 70% or 79,940 are F2A and 30% or 34,260 are F2B), 23,400 F3 visas, and 65,000 F4 visas.
Can you switch visa categories?
In some cases, applicants have the option to switch their visa category. F1 visas are for the unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens and their minor children, while F2B visas are for the unmarried children of a green card holder (or lawful permanent resident).
If the US sponsor goes through the naturalization process, the application is automatically converted from the F2B to F1 category.
However, some people do not wish to do this as the F1 category can be slower than the F2B.
You may be able to file a formal request with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to retain the original category, and retain the original priority filing date.
How long do you have to wait for a F1 and F2B visa?
Applying for a Family Preference visa is not a quick process and involves a number of stages. There is no average length of waiting time for the F1 or F2B visas because the number of visas is limited each year.
This cap could mean that the applicant may be waiting for between two to seven or more years. Unfortunately, there is no way to know how long you have to wait for a decision to be made on your visa.
If you are applying for the F2B visa, and your sponsor becomes a citizen, you may be able to submit a new application for an Immediate Relative visa (if applicable to your circumstances). This process could see your family member coming to the US quicker than on a Family Preference visa.
How can IAS help me?
IAS is committed to assisting its clients who intend to submit, or have submitted an application for family-based green cards. We understand that the process can be difficult and complex and we provide a full range of services to support you.
Our expert immigration lawyers can advise on how you can apply for a green card. Some of the services we provide include:
- Undertake an assessment of eligibility for your relatives
- Ensure that you have the correct documents needed to provide proof of relationship
- Engage with you and your family members throughout the process
- Support you in filing the correct documents within deadlines
- Complete your application to the highest standards without errors
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