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The F4 visa grants lawful permanent residence to specific family members of the citizens of the United States, like brothers or sisters, on an immigration rule. This visa is subject to immigration laws and regulations that may change over time. That is why the waiting times and eligibility requirements can sometimes be different. Let us delve deeper and learn more about the details of an F4 visa below.
Steps to Apply for the F4 Visa
The process of applying for an F4 visa involves several steps. Here is an overview of the F4 visa application process that everyone must know:
- File the Sponsor's Petition (Form I-130). The citizen sibling (the petitioner) files a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with USCIS to establish the qualifying relationship.
- Wait for Visa Availability. F4 visas are subject to numerical limits, which results in a waiting period for visa availability. The same depends on the priority date established when the I-130 petition is filed.
- Coordinate with the National Visa Center (NVC). The case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). For the unversed, this center notifies both the petitioner and the foreign-born sibling.
- Decide on an Agent and Payment of Fees. Both the petitioner and the beneficiary (sibling) select an agent to receive NVC communications and pay the required fees.
- Submit Supporting Documents. The NVC requests the submission of documents, including the Online Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-260), financial documents, passport-style photos, and other supporting materials.
- Complete the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). The citizen petitioner completes and submits an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to demonstrate financial ability to support the sibling and their family members.
- File the DS-260 Form. The beneficiary (sibling) completes the Online Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-260) on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website.
- Get a Visa Interview Appointment. The beneficiary and any derivative beneficiaries are scheduled for a visa interview at the embassy or consulate in their home country after the NVC review and acceptance of documents.
- Undergo Medical Examination and Vaccination. The beneficiary and derivative beneficiaries undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician and receive any required vaccinations.
- Attend Visa Interview. The beneficiary and accompanying family members attend the visa interview at the embassy or consulate, bringing all required documents.
- Wait for the Visa Issuance. The consular officer will issue the F4 visa on the spot or provide instructions on visa collection if the interview is successful.
- Travel to the United States. The beneficiary and accompanying family members can travel to the United States to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) once the F4 visa is issued.
Eligibility for the F4 Visa
Any person must fulfill certain requirements to be eligible for the F4 visa. Here is a list of eligibility prerequisites for these applicants:
- Having Sibling Relationship: The sibling must be the sponsoring citizen’s brother or sister. Half-siblings also qualify for the same but must share at least one common parent with the citizen petitioner.
- Holding Marital Status: The person can be either a married or unmarried sibling. However, the eligibility of the spouse and the children of the sibling depends on the latter’s marital status.
- Willing to Take Financial Responsibility: The sponsoring citizen must be willing to financially support the foreign-born sibling and any accompanying immediate family members. This includes providing an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to demonstrate that they meet the minimum income requirements to support the family.
- Securing a Priority Date: The sponsoring citizen must file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) for the foreign-born sibling. The date of filing the I-130 petition establishes the "priority date." Waiting periods for visa availability are based on this priority date and depend on the demand for F4 visas.
- Checking Numerical Limits: The F4 visa category is subject to numerical limits, which means that the number of visas issued each fiscal year is limited. That is why the waiting times for visa processing can be lengthy for individuals from countries with high demand.
- Owning Derivative Beneficiaries: The spouse and unmarried children under 21 of the foreign-born sibling are eligible to accompany the primary beneficiary (sibling). So they can obtain F4 visas as derivative beneficiaries together.
Documents Required for the F4 Visa
An applicant needs to provide a specific set of documents while applying for the F4 visa. These documents are required by the National Visa Center (NVC). They may also be required by the embassy or consulate where the person will attend the visa interview. Here are the detailed documents required for an F4 visa application:
- Online Immigrant Visa Application: Complete Form DS-260 on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website. The applicant will receive a DS-260 confirmation page after submission.
- Passport: The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of entering the United States.
- Two Passport-size Photos: Submit two recent passport-sized photos for each applicant. It is according to the specific photo requirements of the embassy or consulate where the applicant will attend the visa interview.
- Birth Certificates: Include original or certified copies of birth certificates for the primary beneficiary (sibling). This also applies to any accompanying family members to establish family relationships.
- Marriage Certificates or Divorce Documents: Provide marriage certificates for the beneficiary's spouse and divorce certificates or decrees. The process applies if the beneficiary or the spouse has been previously married.
- Police Clearance Certificates: Get police clearance certificates from the beneficiary's current country of residence and any other countries where they have lived for more than six months
- Military Records: Submit military records or exemption certificates for male applicants of eligible age if applicable.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): The sponsoring citizen must complete and submit the Form I-864 to demonstrate their financial ability to support the beneficiary and accompanying family members.
- Financial Documents: Provide evidence of the citizen sponsor's financial ability. The same consular officer may also request additional financial evidence.
- Civil Documents: Include other civil documents that may be relevant to the application. It includes adoption decrees, marriage termination documents, or evidence of legal name changes.
- Visa Application Fees: Pay each applicant's required visa application fees as specified by the embassy or consulate. Keep the payment receipts as proof of payment.
- Medical Examination Results: Present the results of a medical examination conducted by an approved panel physician and proof of any required vaccinations. The examination must be completed within a specific time frame before the visa interview.
- Photocopies: Prepare photocopies of all original documents for submission during the visa interview. The embassy or consulate may sometimes require the original documents for verification.
Key Terms for F4 Visas
- Priority Date: The date the citizen petitioner files the Form I-130 petition determines the beneficiary's place in the visa queue for the F4 category.
- Derivative Beneficiaries: Immediate family members who can accompany the primary F4 visa beneficiary to the United States.
- Numerical Limits: The annual cap on the number of F4 visas issued, leading to waiting periods for visa availability, with the length of the wait determined by demand and priority dates.
- Panel Physician: A medical professional authorized by the embassy or consulate to conduct the required medical examination for F4 visa applicants to ensure they meet health and vaccination standards for entry into the United States.
- Consular Processing: The process by which F4 visa applicants attend a visa interview. Embassy or consulate in their home country, where consular officers assess eligibility and issue the F4 visa for entry into the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
Final Thoughts on F4 Visas
The F4 visa, designed for siblings of U.S. citizens and their immediate families, offers the opportunity for family reunification in the United States. While it provides a path to permanent residency, the F4 visa has waiting periods due to numerical limitations and demand. Navigating the complex application process, from establishing priority dates to providing essential documents, is essential for a successful application. Despite the challenges, the F4 visa plays an important role in reuniting families and providing siblings with a pathway to the benefits of lawful permanent residency in the United States.
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