What is an F2A Visa?
The F2A is one of the visa types under the US Family Preference green card category. It’s available to unmarried children under 21 years and spouses of lawful permanent residents. With this visa, eligible immediate relatives can become permanent US residents.
You can study and work in the US with permanent residency status. The F2A visa falls in the same category as the F2B visa – Preference Relative Green Cards. However, you shouldn’t confuse the two. The F2B is exclusive for unmarried children of US permanent residents who are 21 years and older.
F2A visas usually have a high number of applicants even though it has a limited number of slots per year. For this reason, the visa has a relatively long waiting time. Nevertheless, the quota is 70% for F2A applicants and 30% for F2B applicants. Hence, F2B applications usually have longer waiting times than F2A.
F2A Visa Eligibility
To be eligible for the F2A visa, you must be the spouse or unmarried child under 21 of a US lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder. You must be able to prove a qualifying family relationship with the permanent resident to qualify. Unmarried children up to 21 and above can apply for F2B.
There are certain eligibility requirements for both the petitioner (sponsor) and the beneficiary of the visa. The US permanent resident family member petitioning on your behalf must be over 18 as they have to sign consent documents. They must be living in the United States with a registered address.
In addition, they must prove that they’re financially capable of taking care of the immediate relative(s) they are sponsoring on the green card application. Their salary must be at least 125% of the US Federal Poverty Guidelines.
If you’re already in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you and the family member sponsoring your F2A visa must meet the above requirements before you can adjust your status to a permanent resident.
F2A Visa Required Documents
Documents you’ll provide for your F2A visa depend on your case. Nevertheless, the basic documents include:
- Birth or adoption certificate for unmarried children under 21
- Marriage certificate for spouse
- International passport
- Two passport photographs
- Proof of no criminal history from local police or court
- Medical examination form
- Signed Affidavit of Support from US family member with a permanent resident – Form I-864
- Divorce certificate or death certificate of a previous marriage, if applicable.
- Form DS-260 confirmation
• Visa application fee receipts
• Military records if the beneficiary had previously served in the military
F2A Visa Application Process
Family preference visa applications first require the sponsoring relative (lawful permanent resident) to file a petition. If approved, the visa beneficiary (applicant) will apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate in their country of residence. If the beneficiary is already in the US, they can apply for adjustment of status. The process is as follows:
Form I-130 Petition
The first step is for your sponsor (the lawful permanent resident) relative to file Form I-130, Petition For Alien Relative, on your behalf. This will also include the affidavit of support. If the USCIS doesn’t approve the petition, you can’t proceed with the visa application.
After filing the petition, it may take USCIS some months to process it. They will inform the petitioner if the petition is approved or not. If they reject the petition, they will provide reasons and let you know if you can file a new petition. If approved, the petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
The NVC will contact the petitioner and the beneficiary to let you know that the petition has been approved. The information will include the petition’s case number, required fees and payment instructions, and guidelines on the next steps.
After the approval by the NVC, the beneficiary may apply for an F2A visa when their priority date becomes current. The visa application process will depend on whether the beneficiary is applying from the US or outside the US.
Applicants outside the US will have to undergo consular processing at a US embassy or consulate in their country of residence. They will file Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application. They will complete the form online, pay the application fees and provide all necessary documents. If they are in the US, they will undergo an adjustment of status process by filing Form I-485.
Medical Examination and Vaccination
You have to show that you’re in good health to enter and live in the United States. For this, you must pass a medical examination test and receive all necessary vaccines. The test must be conducted by an embassy-approved doctor.
Your visa interview is perhaps the most important part of your visa application. After processing your online application, you can schedule an interview at the US embassy. Due to the long wait times and visa limits, you must schedule an interview as soon as possible.
At the interview, an embassy officer will ask you questions about your application and intention of moving to the US. Most of it will have to do with your relationship with the US LPR. So long as you provide genuine answers that correspond with the documents you submitted, you’ll be fine.
You’ll get a verdict immediately after your interview or a few weeks later. It’s important not to make any travel plans until you’re sure your visa is approved. If your application is approved, you’ll receive a sealed packet which you must not open.
You will submit the packet to immigration officials upon arrival in the United States. You can only enter the US after they approve the documents in your package.
F2A Visa Application Fees
Various fees apply when applying for an F2A green card. They include:
- Form I-130 filing fee: $535
- Form DS-260 processing fee: $325
- Affidavit of Support: $120
- Biometrics Fee (if applicable): $85
- USCIS Immigrant Fee: $220
If applicable, you’ll need to submit your biometrics at the embassy before or after your embassy. For that, you have to pay the fee. There may be costs of your medical examination and vaccinations. Furthermore, if you submit non-English documents, you may have to pay for certified translations.
After your visa is approved, you have to pay the USCIS immigrant fee before you can enter the United States. Ideally, you should pay this before you depart your resident country.
F2A Visa Processing Time
F2A visas have long waiting times due to the 80,000 visa cap. Applications are typically processed chronologically. In other words, the processing time will depend on the number of applicants before you.
If the annual slot is filled, you’ll have to wait till the next year to apply. Therefore, the earlier you apply, the better. On average, it could take about a year or more to completely process F2A visas.
In some cases, your LPR relative in the US may gain US citizenship before you get your F2A visa. This is possible as some F2A visas can take even 10 years to process, and a US citizenship application requires just 5 years of lawful residence.
If such happens, you can apply for immediate relative (IR) visas – IR1 or CR1 visas. The IR visas have no visa cap, which means fast processing times.
F2A Visa Validity
The F2A visa is a green card that grants you permanent resident status. Hence, you can stay in the United States for a lifetime. However, most US green cards expire after 10 years. If this applies to your F2A green card, you have to file for renewal.
You can file online on the USCIS website. This also applies if you misplace your green card. It’s ideal to apply for green card renewal 6 months before the expiry date. However, you shouldn’t file earlier than 6 months.
How can IAS help?
The process to get an F2A Visa can be tedious and time-consuming. However, at IAS our citizenship and immigration services are designed to help with all the necessary legal details.
Your IAS immigration lawyer will:
- Check if you have all the necessary supporting documents
- Complete all your application forms for you.
- Check the F2A Visa bulletin to follow the availability of visas.
- Liaise with you and your family members
- Liaise with the NVC and your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
To arrange your initial consultation, get in touch today or call us on +1 844 290 6312.
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The visa bulletin is where you get information on your priority date. The US Department of State publishes information of applicants whose Form I-130 petition is approved so they can proceed with submitting DS-260. You’ll have to constantly check the visa bulletin to know when it’s your turn.
No, F2A is only available for legally married spouses and unmarried children under 21. Parents of US LPRs can apply for IR visas after they gain US citizenship. A permanent resident cannot petition for their parents.