- What is the F4 Visa?
- Who is eligible for the F4 Visa?
- How to apply for the F4 Visa?
- What happens during the petition stage?
- What supporting documents are required for the F4 Visa?
- How much does the F4 Visa cost?
- What is the processing time of the F4 Visa?
- What to expect during the F4 Visa interview?
- What happens after the visa interview?
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the F4 Visa?
The F4 Visa belongs to the Family Preference Category of US Family Based Green Cards. It is designed for siblings of US citizens, but if their application is successful, their dependents can also come to the US. The F4 Visa allows them to settle in the US permanently, work without any restrictions, and study at US academic institutions.
As the F4 Visa is one of the Family Preference Visas, it is subject to the annual cap on how many of them can be issued to immigrant applicants. Each year only 65,000 visas are granted.
Who is eligible for the F4 Visa?
The F4 Visa is intended for siblings of US citizens. There are however certain requirements that the US citizen needs to fulfil. These are:
- They have US citizenship
- They are 21 years of age or older
- They have siblings in a foreign country and are able to prove your relationship through birth certificates or other documents
- They are living in the US and have a valid address there.
If the US citizen does not meet these requirements, they cannot become a sponsor and their siblings cannot initiate their application for the F4 Visa.
What happens during the petition stage?
The application process for the F4 Visa cannot start until the US citizen completes Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The US sponsor also has to pay a fee of $535 at the time of submitting the petition to USCIS. Without that, the foreign sibling will not be able to proceed with their visa application.
In the petition, the US citizen needs to state that they are initiating the visa application process for their sibling, who becomes the main person in the application. If the sibling wants to bring their spouse or children to the US, the US sponsor also needs to include them in the form.
Once the petition is submitted, the Department of Homeland Security processes it within a few months. When the decision is made, the US citizen is informed about it by USCIS.
If the petition is accepted, the NVC will send a package that explains what the next steps are to the foreign applicant. If the petition is rejected, USCIS will give a reason for it and the US citizen will have the chance to include changes in the petition and submit it again.
What supporting documents are required for the F4 Visa?
In addition to required application forms, when you are applying for the F4 Visa, you have to submit a number of other supporting documents to prove your eligibility for it. These include:
- Passport valid for at least six months past your planned admission into the US. If you are bringing your dependents with you, make sure to include their passports too.
- Confirmation page of Form DS-260
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support signed by the US petitioner
- Proof of having attended a medical examination and having received all the required vaccinations
- Two passport size photographs per individual
- Marriage and birth certificates (if applicable)
- Divorce certificate for those who have previously been married
- Criminal records and any police certificates
- Military records for those who have served in the military.
Depending on your personal circumstances, you might also have to include some other evidence. If you fail to include some of the required documents, NVC might determine that you do not meet the eligibility criteria for the F4 Visa. To increase your chances of success and make sure you have a complete portfolio of evidence, hire one of our immigration lawyers.
How much does the F4 Visa cost?
All F4 applicants have to pay the following visa fees:
- $535 for the processing of Form I-130 – to be paid by the US sponsor when they are submitting the petition to USCIS
- $325 for the processing of Form DS-260
- $120 for the processing of the Affidavit of Support
- $220 for the USCIS Immigrant Fee – to be paid after you receive your F4 Visa and before you arrive in the US
Fees for medical examination and vaccinations
Additionally, depending on where you come from, you might have to pay fees for the translation of your documents. All the evidence you submit to USCIS has to be translated to English.
What is the processing time of the F4 Visa?
If you want to apply for the F4 Visa, you have to be prepared for a long waiting time. How long will you have to wait depends on your nationality and the workload of the US Embassy or Consulate where you are applying. Nevertheless, only a limited number of F4 Visa applications is processed each year. Once that limit is reached, USCIS does not process any applications until next fiscal year. Unfortunately, there might be many visa applicants waiting in line before you.
Some people get lucky and receive the decision regarding their F4 Visa application within just one year. Others wait much longer, however. It is not uncommon for those applying for the F4 Visa to wait several years before their application is processed.
If you need to come to the US urgently, you might consider applying for non-immigrant permits while you are waiting for your F4 Visa. You can, for example, come to the US to visit your sibling on the B2 Tourist Visitor Visa.
What to expect during the F4 Visa interview?
The visa interview is the last phase of the application process for the F4 Visa. You will have to go to a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country to attend it. The goal of the interview is to determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements for the visa and whether the information you included in the application is true.
There is no single set of questions that visa applicants are asked during the interview. Nevertheless, you can expect to hear questions that aim to verify whether:
- Your relationship with the US petitioner is genuine
- Your sibling living in the US has US citizenship
- You have a past criminal record
- You are linked to any terrorist organisations
- Your marriage is real (if you are bringing your spouse to the US with you).
The immigration officer might also ask you why you want to immigrate to the US. Make sure to answer all questions truthfully as lying during the interview can lead to your visa being denied. If you are not sure about a certain question, try to give as much detail as you remember.
To make sure you are well prepared for your visa interview, hire one of our immigration lawyers. They will go over sample questions with you and will explain to you in detail what will happen during your visa interview.
What happens after the visa interview?
Most of the time, if everything goes well during the interview, you can expect to get the decision right away. That means that on the day of your interview you will know whether your green card application has been approved. If so, you can start preparing for your journey to the US.
Keep in mind, however, that even if you receive a positive decision, you will not get your Green Card immediately. USCIS will issue it to you through mail, which you can expect to get within several weeks after the interview.
Sometimes, an immigration officer might need more time to make a decision. If that is the case, you will have to wait several weeks. They might ask you to submit additional evidence, which can make the waiting time longer. To avoid that, seek advice from our immigration lawyers. They will make sure that you take all the necessary documents with you to the interview.
How can IAS help?
The application process for the F4 Visa can be complex and stressful. If you go through it alone, you can easily make mistakes which can lead to delays or visa denial. Luckily, you can avoid that by using our citizenship and immigration services.
Here at IAS, we have a team of highly qualified immigration lawyers who have expert knowledge of the US immigration system. Your lawyer can guide you through each step of the F4 Visa application process and they answer any questions you might have.
If your application for the F4 Visa is rejected, our lawyers will help you understand why USCIS made such a decision. They will also explain to you what your options are and what other US visas you might be eligible for.
To find out more and schedule a consultation, call us today on +1 844 290 6312.
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The Affidavit of Support is a contract in which a US sponsor proves that they have enough funds to financially support their relative after they immigrate to the US. In the form they agree to use these funds to help the visa applicant so that they do not become public charge after arriving in the US. The Affidavit of Support is required for most family-based visas, including the F4 Visa.
The F4 Visa belongs to the Family Preference Category of Family Based Green Cards. These visas are subject to annual caps on how many visas can be granted to applicants. Each year only 65,000 F4 Visas can be issued. Once that limit is reached, USCIS stops processing visa applications until next fiscal year. That is why F4 Visa applicants often have to wait several years before their application is approved.
If your application for the F4 Visa is approved, you will receive a Green Card and you will be able to come to the US and stay there permanently. Nevertheless, you will not automatically receive US citizenship. If you would like to apply to become a US citizen, you will first have to spend five years living in the US as a lawful permanent resident.
Unfortunately, like it is the case with any other US Visa, your F4 Visa can be denied. That can happen if, for example, any of the following grounds of inadmissibility applies to you:
- You have previously violated US Immigration Law
- You have previously been deported from the US
- You have previously been convicted of fraud
- You have previously been involved in drug trafficking or terrorism.
These are just some examples of circumstances that might lead to you being refused the F4 Visa. Each case is different so immigration officers carefully analyse all applications and might decide that something else about your situation makes you ineligible for the visa.