F3 Visa: US Family Preference Visas

The Family Preference Immigrant Visa is a U.S. immigrant visa for the purpose of reuniting family members in the United States. You can obtain this type of green card if you have an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Grandparents, aunts and uncles are relatives and are not eligible for this type of green card.

Family green cards are very beneficial for family reunification, but each of these cards has a certain number of visas that can be issued in a year. The US sets a limit for each visa and visas are issued in chronological order. So if your application exceeds the number of visas that can be issued in a given year, your visa will be processed in the next time period.

What Is the F-3 Visa?

The F-3 visa is granted to the children of U.S. citizens who are residing in a foreign country. This visa does not apply to unmarried children, only married children of U.S. citizens. In addition, a spouse and minor children (unmarried and under the age of 21) may also qualify for an F-3 visa.

Family Green Card visas are limited in the number of visas that can be issued in a year, so only 23,400 F-3 visas can be issued in a year. Once the one-year limit is reached, additional visas are issued in subsequent years in chronological order.

With an F-3 visa, married children of U.S. citizens can reside permanently in the U.S. with their spouses and minor children. They do not need an EAD (Employment Authorization Document), can work legally with only a Social Security number, and can study, travel abroad, and enter the United States at any time.

What Are the Requirements For the F-3 Visa?

As with many other family visas, there are no extensive requirements for an F-3 visa; to qualify for an F-3 visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Both parents must be U.S. citizens and be able to prove this with a valid birth or adoption certificate.
  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be married and have a valid marriage certificate.

If a U.S. citizen wishes to bring an adult child to live permanently in the U.S., the following conditions must be met:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have an adult child living abroad and be able to prove this with a birth certificate or adoption documentBe a
  • resident of the U.S. and have a valid U.S. address.

How to Apply For the F-3 Visa?

The application process for an F-3 visa is lengthy and involves many steps. U.S. citizens must apply to U.S. authorities for permission for their adult children, spouses and minor children to enter the United States. This means that the application is divided into two parts.

  • The U.S. citizen files a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the adult child, spouse or minor child.
  • If the petition is approved, the adult children and their families must file an application with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

If your petition to USCIS is not approved, you will not be eligible for an F-3 visa. You will not be able to apply for or receive this type of green card.

Filing the Petition

A U.S. citizen begins the application process by filing a petition with USCIS. The petition is filed by submitting a complete Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to USCIS. The petition goes through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is processed after the U.S. citizen pays the fee. It is important that the U.S. citizen also list the adult child’s spouse and minor children (if applicable) on the petition. This will allow the entire family of the U.S. citizen’s children to travel to the United States on an F-3 visa.

The petition is then processed by USCIS and a response is issued within a few months, depending on the workload. If the petition is denied, the reason for the denial is provided and the U.S. citizen may revise and resubmit the petition. If the petition is approved, the documents are sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).

The NVC sends a packet of documents and instructions to the petitioner abroad. This document contains the case number and billing ID number that will be used to actually apply for the visa at the U.S. Embassy and pay all required fees.

However, since there is a cap on the number of F-3 visas available, you will not be able to apply for a visa if your priority date is not up to date, even if your petition is approved. This means that you will have to wait your turn if there are many other applicants ahead of you who have exceeded the F-3 visa cap. Once your priority date is up to date, you will be notified by the NVC and can begin Step 2 of the application process.

Applying for the F3 visa

Once you have been notified by NVC that your priority date has arrived, follow the instructions on the document packet sent to you by NVC to begin the petition process to obtain an F-3 visa. Since the petition lists you as an adult child of a U.S. citizen, as well as your spouse and minor children, each individual must file a visa application. Applications should be submitted to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

File Form DS-260

Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, is a document that must be submitted by all immigrant visa applicants. You, your spouse, and your children must each submit a Form DS-260. This form is completed online and requires you to provide detailed information about your background and reasons for immigration; the DS-260 form can be accessed by entering the NVC case number you received in your instruction packet. Once you submit the form, you will receive a confirmation page and number that you can later send to NVC as part of your documentation.

Complete medical examination and vaccination

Anyone wishing to immigrate to and live in the U.S. must have a complete medical examination and all required immunizations. In this case, you, your spouse, and your minor children must go to a licensed physician to receive the required medical examinations and immunizations. These documents must be signed by a licensed physician and submitted to NVC as part of your document file.

Compile documents file

The document file must contain all required documents that support your case. You must convince the NVC and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you and your family meet all the requirements and are eligible for an F-3 visa. The file must include the following

  • Valid passports (for you, your spouse, and your minor children) that are at least six months old at the time you plan to enter the United States.
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, signed by the U.S. petitioner (parent of the petitioner).
  • Confirmation page for Form DS-260
  • Medical examination and immunization records
  • Two photographs of each person for U.S. visas as per photo requirements
  • A valid marriage certificate verifying your marriage
  • Your child’s birth certificate or adoption papers
  • Court records, criminal records, and police certificates
  • If you were married in the past, bring a divorce or death certificate proving that your marriage has officially ended.
  • If you served in the military, you will need to bring your military service record.

Once you have all the necessary documents for your F3 visa, you can start thinking about your health insurance options.

Attend interview

Once the required documents are in order and it has been determined that you meet the requirements, the NVC will schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

You, your spouse, and your minor children must be present at the interview. During the interview, you will be asked about your background and the officer will determine if you are eligible for an F-3 visa to remain in the U.S. with your parents.

Receive NVC packet and travel to the U.S.

If your visa is approved and you and your family receive an F-3 visa, your passport will be stamped. You will also receive a packet to bring with you when you first enter the United States on an immigrant visa.

You may not open the packet under any circumstances. Only the immigration officer at the U.S. port of entry can open the package and determine if you are eligible to enter the United States.

How Much Does the F-3 Visa Cost?

There are various fees for processing the F-3 visa application, which must be paid by both the applicant and the petitioner. The amounts are set by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. embassy or consulate where the petition is filed. The major categories of fees that must be paid are.

  • Form I-130 Application Fee
  • Form DS-260 processing fee
  • Fees for medical examinations and vaccinations
  • Costs for obtaining and translating all supporting documents
  • The USCIS immigration fee must be paid after you receive your visa and before you travel to the United States.

How Long Is the F-3 visa Processing Time?

Due to the cap on family green cards, the processing time for F-3 visas can range from one year to up to ten years in extreme cases. This is because there are so many applicants that it is impossible to process them all at the same time.

Other Types of Family Based Green Cards

Family-based green cards are marked with the prefix F. There are four types of this visa.

  • F-1 visas are issued to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children (not to be confused with F-1 student visa).
  • F-2 visas are issued to spouses of U.S. permanent residents and their minor children (F-2A visa) or adult children (F-2B visa).
  • F-3 visas are issued to married children of U.S. citizens traveling to the United States with their spouses and minor children.
  • F-4 visas are issued to brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens traveling to the United States with their spouses and minor children. To apply for this visa, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old.

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