What is an F2A visa?
The F2A is one of the visa types that fall under the US Family Preference green card category. It is available to unmarried children under age 21 and to spouses of lawful permanent residents. With this visa, eligible next of kin can become permanent residents of the United States.
You can study and work in the United States with permanent residency status. The F2A visa falls into the same category as the F2B – Preference Relative Green Card visa. However, you should not confuse the two. F2B is reserved for unmarried children of U.S. permanent residents who are at least 21 years old.
F2A visas usually have a high number of applicants even though they have a limited number of slots per year. For this reason the visa has a relatively long waiting time. However, the quota is 70% for F2A applicants and 30% for F2B applicants. Therefore, F2B applications usually have longer wait times than F2A.
Eligibility for F2A visa:
To be eligible for the F2A visa, you must be the spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident of the United States, also known as a green card holder. To qualify you must be able to demonstrate a qualifying family relationship with the permanent resident. Unmarried children up to 21 years of age and above are eligible to apply for F2B.
There are certain eligibility requirements for both the applicant (sponsor) and the visa beneficiary. The U.S. permanent resident family member filing on your behalf must be over the age of 18 as she must sign the consent documents. They must live in the United States with a registered address.
Additionally, they must demonstrate that they are financially capable of caring for the immediate relatives they sponsor in applying for the green card. Their salary must be at least 125% of the US Federal Poverty Guidelines.
If you are 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 change your status to permanent resident.
Documents required for F2A visa:
The documents you will provide for your F2A visa depend on your case. However, the basic documents include:
- Birth or adoption certificate for unmarried children under 21 years of age
- Marriage certificate for spouse
- International passport
- Two passport-size photographs
- Proof of no criminal record from the police or local court
- Medical examination form
- Affidavit of Support signed by U.S. permanent resident family member – Form I-864
- Divorce certificate or death certificate from a previous marriage, if applicable.
- Confirmation of DS-260 form
- Receipt of visa application fees
- Military documents if the beneficiary had previously served in the military
F2A Visa Application Process:
Family preference visa applications first require the sponsoring relative (legal permanent resident) to submit a petition. If approved, the visa beneficiary (applicant) will apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence. If the beneficiary is already in the United States, you 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) to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. This will also include the affidavit of support. If USCIS does not approve the petition, you will not be able to proceed with the visa application.
After you file your petition, it may take USCIS a few months to process it. They will inform the signatory whether the petition will be approved or not. If they deny the petition, they will provide reasons and let you know if you can submit 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 beneficiary to let you know that the petition has been approved. The information will include the petition case number, required fees, payment instructions, and next-step guidelines.
After approval by the NVC, the beneficiary can apply for an F2A visa when his or her priority date becomes effective. The visa application process will depend on whether the beneficiary is applying from the United States or outside the United States.
Applicants from outside the United States will need to undergo consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence. They will submit Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application. They will complete the online form, pay the application fees and provide all necessary documents. If they are in the United States, they will go through an adjustment of status process by completing Form I-485.
The visa interview is perhaps the most important part of your visa application. After processing your online application, you can schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy. Due to long wait times and visa limitations, you should schedule an interview as soon as possible.
During the interview, an embassy official will ask you questions about your application and plans to move to the United States. Most will have to do with your relationship with the US LPR. As long as you provide authentic answers that match the documents you submitted, you’ll be fine.
You will receive a verdict immediately after the interview or a few weeks later. It is important not to plan any trips until you are sure your visa is approved. If your request is approved, you will receive a sealed package that you will not have to open.
You will present the package to immigration officials upon arrival in the United States. You can only enter the United States after approving the documents in your package.
F2A visa application fees:
When requesting an F2A green card, there are several expenses involved. They include:
- Form I-130 filing fee: $535
- DS-260 Form Processing Fee: $325
- Affidavit of Support: $120
- Biometric fee (if applicable): $85
- USCIS Immigrant Fee: $220
If applicable, you will need to submit your biometric data to the embassy before or after your embassy. For this, you have to pay the fee. There may be costs for doctor visits and vaccinations. Additionally, if you send non-English documents, you may have to pay for certified translations.
After your visa is approved, you must pay the USCIS immigration fee before you can enter the United States. Ideally, you should pay it before leaving your country of residence.
F2A Visa Processing Time:
F2A visas have long wait times due to the 80,000 visa cap. Applications are generally processed in chronological order. Put another way, the amount of applications before you will determine how long the processing takes.
If the annual space is full, you will have to wait until the following year to apply. Therefore, the sooner you apply, the better. On average, it may take around a year or more to fully process F2A visas.
In some cases, your LPR relative in the United States may obtain US citizenship before you obtain the F2A visa. This is possible because some F2A visas can take as long as 10 years to process and an application for US citizenship requires only 5 years of legal residency.
If this happens, you can apply for immediate relatives (IR) visas – IR1 or CR1 visas. IR visas have no visa limits, which means fast processing times.
Validity of the F2A visa:
A green card that gives you permanent residence status is the F2A visa. Thus, you are permitted to remain in the US indefinitely. But after ten years, the majority of US green cards expire. If this applies to your F2A green card, you must apply for renewal.
You can apply online at the USCIS website. This also applies if you lose your green card. The ideal is to request the renewal of the green card 6 months before the expiry date. However, you should not apply before 6 months.
What is the F2A Visa Bulletin?
The Visa Bulletin is where you get information about your priority date. The U.S. Department of State publishes the information of applicants whose Form I-130 petition has been approved so that they can proceed with submitting the DS-260. You will have to constantly check the visa bulletin to find out when it is your turn.
Can parents apply for F2A visa?
No, F2A is only available to legally married spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. Parents of LPRs in the US may apply for IR visas upon their naturalization. A permanent resident cannot apply for their parents.