F4 visas are part of a category of U.S. immigrant visas called family preference visas. These visas allow lawful permanent residents of the United States to be reunited with their families. These visas include siblings and, in some cases, their spouses and unmarried children.
To qualify for an F4 visa, a U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old and eligible to bring a sibling to the United States. An F4 visa provides the opportunity to reside, work and study in the U.S. without the need for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and with only a Social Security number. The F4 visa gives you the opportunity to reside, work and study in the U.S. without the need for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and with only a Social Security number.
F4 visas are capped at 65,000 per year and there is a limit to the number of applications the US government will accept and process.
What are the requirements of the F4 visa?
The requirements for an F4 visa include those for siblings of U.S. citizens who are abroad and for U.S. citizens who wish to be reunited with them.
However, the only requirement for an F4 visa is that you have a U.S. citizen brother or sister in the United States. If they are married and have children, those children are also eligible for an F4 visa, but it is not a requirement.
If a U.S. citizen wishes to bring a brother or sister to live permanently in the U.S., he or she must meet the following requirements
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have a brother or sister abroad and be able to prove this with a birth certificate or adoption document.
- Be a U.S. resident and have a valid U.S. address.
How to apply for the F4 visa?
The application process for an F4 visa begins with a U.S. citizen filing a petition to bring a sibling to the United States. If the petition is approved, the sibling and their family can begin the F4 visa application process. If you apply for an F4 visa without an approved petition, your sibling will not be able to start the application and will not be eligible. In other words, the application is divided into two parts.
- A U.S. citizen files a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of his or her adult child, spouse, or minor child.
- If the petition is approved, the adult child and his or her family must file an application with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
Filing the Petition
U.S. citizens must file an I-130 (Alien Relative Petition) with USCIS. The petition must list the sibling as the principal, and if the sibling is married and has minor children, the names of the spouse and children must also be listed. This will make it easier for the entire family to obtain an F4 visa if the petition is approved.
The petition will be sent through the Department of Homeland Security and will be processed within a few months. USCIS will then notify the petitioner whether the petition has been approved or denied. If the petition is denied, the reason for the denial will be provided and the petitioner can correct the error 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 instructions and documents to the petitioner abroad. These documents include a case number and a billing ID number. These are used at the beginning of the application process and when the applicant pays the fee.
However, since there is a cap on the number of F4 visas that can be issued per year, applicants cannot begin the application process until their priority date is reached. This means that you cannot apply for an F4 visa until it is your turn in the chronological order of all applicants applying for an F4 visa. For example, if there are too many applications and you exceed the two-year limit, your application will be processed in the third year.
Applying for the F-2A visa
Once your priority status is activated, you will be notified by NVC that you can begin the process of applying for an F4 visa. If the U.S. citizen’s siblings are married and have minor children, they must all apply for an F4 visa individually. This can be done at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.
File Form DS-260
Form DS-260, Electronic Application for Immigrant Visa, is a document that must be filed by all immigrant visa applicants. You, your spouse, and your children must each submit a Form DS-260.
This is an online form where you must describe your background and reasons for wanting to immigrate to the United States. To access the DS-260 form, you must enter your NVC case number and link it to your approved petition.
Once you submit the DS-260 form, you will see a confirmation page and number so you can save it and send it to the NVC with the other attachments.
Complete medical examination and vaccination
All immigrants seeking to immigrate to the United States must meet the medical examination and immunization requirements if they wish to reside permanently in the United States. Therefore, NVC is pleased to inform you of the medical examinations and vaccinations required to obtain an F4 visa. You must be vaccinated by a licensed physician and complete a form signed by the physician. These forms will be attached as supporting documentation when you send them to NVC.
Compile documents file
Your paper file must contain all necessary documents to support your case. You must convince NVC and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you and your family meet all the requirements and are eligible for an F4 visa. The file must include the following
- Valid passports (for you, your spouse, and minor children (if applicable)) that are at least six months old at the time of intended entry into the United States.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, signed by the U.S. petitioner (applicant’s sibling).
- Confirmation page for Form DS-260
- Documentation of medical examinations and immunizations
- Two photographs of each person in accordance with the “Photo Requirements for U.S. Visas.
- A valid marriage certificate verifying your marriage
- Your child’s birth certificate or adoption papers
- Court records, criminal records, or police certificates
- If you were married in the past, bring a divorce or death certificate proving that your marriage has officially ended.
- If you have served in the military, please bring your military service record.
All immigrant applicants must have an interview with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate official in their country of residence; NVC will schedule this interview after verifying that the applicant has sent all required documents, and the applicant must be present in time for the interview. If your spouse and minor children are applying with you, they must also accompany you to the interview. The interviewer will ask you questions about your background and determine if you should be granted an F4 visa.
Receive NVC packet and travel to the U.S.
If the Embassy approves your visa, it will be stamped in your passport. At that time, the Embassy will give you a packet to bring with you when you enter the United States. An immigration official at the U.S. port of entry will open the packet and determine if you are admissible.
How much does the F4 visa cost?
There are various fees for processing the F4 visa application that must be paid by the petitioner and applicant. The amounts vary and are determined by USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to which you are applying. 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
- Fees 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.
- The USCIS will not issue your green card if you do not pay this fee.
How long is the F4 visa processing time?
F4 visas are very time consuming as the number of visas that can be issued at one time is limited and the processing time for F4 visas can range from one year to ten years in extreme cases, making it a long time to join your siblings in the US.
Do I Get Access to American Healthcare With an F4 Visa?
Yes, you can receive medical care in the United States on an F4 visa. However, the cost of medical care in the U.S. is among the highest in the world.
Treatment for a broken leg or arm can cost up to $2,500, and an average stay in a U.S. hospital costs more than $10,000. You need to choose a health insurance plan that is right for you and covers your needs in an overall affordable way.
Other Types of US Family Based Immigrant Visas
The family green card is 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.
- F-2 visas are issued to spouses and minor children (F-2A visas) or adult children (F-2B visas) of permanent residents of the United States.
- F-3 visas are issued to married children of U.S. citizens traveling to the United States with their spouses and minor children.
- F4 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.