Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens (F4)

Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens (F4)

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Last updated: April 8, 2024.

What is an F4 Visa for Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens?

The F4 family-based category, also known as the Fourth Preference Family-Based Visa Category, is a classification within the United States immigration system that allows U.S. citizens to sponsor brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Here’s a breakdown of the key features and characteristics of the F4 family-based category:

  • Sponsorship by U.S. Citizens: Only U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can sponsor their siblings (brothers and sisters) for immigration under the F4 category.
  • Qualifying Relationship: To be eligible for sponsorship, the foreign-born sibling must have a qualifying relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner as a brother or sister. This relationship must be proven through appropriate documentation.
  • Visa Availability and Priority Dates: The F4 category is subject to numerical limitations, meaning there are a limited number of visas available each year. As a result, there can be significant waiting times (16 years and more) before a visa becomes available. The date on which the U.S. citizen files the Form I-130 petition serves as the “priority date.” The beneficiary (sibling) needs to wait for their priority date to become current based on visa availability and demand.
  • Country of Origin: Visa availability can vary depending on the beneficiary’s country of origin. The demand for F4 visas from certain countries such as India, Mexico and Philippines may be higher than the number of visas allocated for those countries, leading to longer waiting times.
  • Visa Bulletin: The U.S. Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin each month, which indicates the availability of visas in various family-sponsored and employment-based categories, including F4. Beneficiaries and petitioners can monitor the Visa Bulletin to determine when the priority date becomes current.
  • Application Process: Once the priority date becomes current, the beneficiary can begin the process of applying for an immigrant visa. This involves submitting various forms and documents, undergoing a medical examination, attending a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and meeting other requirements.
  • Immigrant Visa and Green Card: If the beneficiary’s visa application is approved, they are issued an immigrant visa, which allows them to travel to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). Once in the U.S., they can apply for a green card, which provides them with the right to live and work in the country permanently.

How to Apply for an F4 Visa?

Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens can apply for immigrant visas through the Family Fourth Preference (F4) category. Here are the general steps involved in the process:

Step 1. Petition Filing by the U.S. Citizen Sibling: The first step is for the U.S. citizen sibling to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of their foreign-born brother or sister. This petition establishes the qualifying relationship and initiates the immigration process. The U.S. citizen petitioner needs to demonstrate the familial relationship and their own citizenship status.

Step 2. Waiting for Priority Date to Become Current: Once the I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, the case is placed in a queue, and the beneficiary (brother or sister) needs to wait until the “priority date” on the I-130 petition becomes current. The priority date is determined by the filing date of the I-130 petition and the availability of visas in the F4 category for the beneficiary’s country of origin.

Step 3. Checking Visa Bulletin: The U.S. Department of State releases a monthly Visa Bulletin that provides information on visa availability for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories. The beneficiary and petitioner need to regularly check the Visa Bulletin to see if the priority date has become current.

Step 4. Application for Immigrant Visa: When the priority date becomes current, the beneficiary can start the process of applying for an immigrant visa. This involves submitting various forms and documents to the National Visa Center (NVC), including the DS-260 form (Online Immigrant Visa Application) and supporting documentation.

Step 5. Document Submission and Fee Payment: The NVC will request the necessary civil and financial documents from the beneficiary, and they will need to pay the appropriate visa processing fees. These civil documents documents could include passports, birth certificates, police clearances, and more.

Step 6. Visa Interview and Medical Examination: The beneficiary will be required to attend a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Before the interview, they will likely need to undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician.

Step 7. Visa Approval and Entry to the U.S.: If the visa is approved, the beneficiary will receive an immigrant visa in their passport. They can then enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

Step 8. Adjustment of Status (if already in the U.S.): If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. under a different visa status, they might be eligible to apply for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) to become a lawful permanent resident without having to leave the country.

F4 Visa Filing Fees

The filing fees for the F4 visa (Family Fourth Preference) could vary and might change over time due to updates in immigration policies. Keep in mind that these fees might change, so it’s essential to refer to the official USCIS website for the most up-to-date information.

Here are the common fees associated with the F4 visa application process:

  • Form I-130 Filing Fee: This fee is paid by the U.S. citizen petitioner when submitting the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of their sibling. The fee for Form I-130 is $625 (if filing online) or $675 (if filing by mail). This fee is subject to change, so please verify the current fee on the USCIS website.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing Fee: Once the Form I-130 petition is approved, and the priority date becomes current, the NVC will send a fee invoice for processing the immigrant visa application. The fee for the NVC processing is $325.
  • Affidavit of Support Fee: The U.S. citizen petitioner (sponsor) might need to submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to demonstrate that they have the financial means to support the intending immigrant. There is a $120 fee for submitting the Affidavit of Support if the beneficiary is applying for an immigrant visa abroad at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. There’s no Affidavit of Support fee if the beneficiary is applying for Adjustment of Status in the U.S.
  • Medical Examination and Associated Costs: The beneficiary might need to undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician before the visa interview. The cost of the medical examination varies by location and physician.

How Long Does it Take to Obtain an F4 visa?

Obtaining an F4 visa (Family Fourth Preference) for brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens can take 16 years and longer. Waiting a significant amount of time is due to the limited number of visas available each year and the high demand in this category. The timeline mostly depends on the applicant’s country of origin. Here is a general overview of the different stages and timeframes involved:

  • Filing the I-130 Petition: The U.S. citizen petitioner must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of their sibling. Processing times for I-130 petitions can vary, but it typically takes several years to be approved. This can be shorter or longer based on the USCIS workload. Check the latest USCIS processing times.
  • Waiting for Priority Date to Become Current: After the I-130 is approved, the beneficiary (sibling) must wait for their priority date to become current. Priority dates are published in the Visa Bulletin by the U.S. Department of State. The waiting time for the priority date to become current can vary significantly and take anywhere from 16 years to 23 years after Form I-130 is filed.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: Once the priority date is current, the case is transferred to the NVC. The NVC processes the case and requests required documentation and fees from the beneficiary. This stage can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Check the latest NVC average processing time.
  • Consular Processing: After the NVC processing is complete, the beneficiary will attend a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. The waiting time for visa interview appointments can vary depending on the embassy’s workload and scheduling availability and usually takes anywhere from 1 month to 6 months.
  • Visa Issuance and Entry to the U.S.: If the visa is approved, the beneficiary will receive an immigrant visa. After entering the U.S., they become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

The total time frame for obtaining an F4 visa can range from 16 years to 23 years, depending on the applicant’s country of origin. It’s important to note that these estimates are based on historical data and trends, and actual processing times can change over time.

F4 Visa Checklist of Required Documents

The F4 visa application process for brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens involves submitting various forms and documents to establish eligibility and complete the application. Keep in mind that document requirements may vary based on individual circumstances. Below is a general checklist of required documents for the F4 visa application:

  • Form I-130: U.S. citizen sibling’s proof of U.S. citizenship (at least one of the following: U.S. birth certificate, unexpired U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad); proof of sibling relationship (petitioner’s and beneficiary’s birth certificates listing at least one common parent).
  • Form I-130 Approval Notice: A copy of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, approval notice indicating that the petition has been approved by USCIS.
  • Passport: A valid passport for each applicant, including the beneficiary (sibling) and any accompanying family members.
  • Form DS-260: The DS-260 is the Online Immigrant Visa Application. It is completed and submitted electronically through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website.
  • Visa Fee Payment Receipt: Proof of payment of the visa application fee (if applicable), usually provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • NVC Case Number and Invoice ID: The National Visa Center (NVC) will provide a case number and invoice ID. These identifiers are needed for further processing.
  • Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): This form is typically submitted by the U.S. citizen petitioner (sponsor) to demonstrate financial support for the intending immigrant. It requires evidence of the petitioner’s income and assets.
  • Civil Documents:
    • Birth certificates for the beneficiary and accompanying family members.
    • Marriage certificates for the beneficiary (if applicable) and accompanying family members.
    • Divorce or death certificates if applicable (evidence of termination of previous marriages).
    • Adoption certificates (if applicable).
  • Police Clearance Certificates: Police clearance certificates or equivalent documentation from each country where the beneficiary has lived for six months or more since reaching the age of 16.
  • Military Records: If applicable, military records or discharge papers.
  • Medical Examination Results: The results of the medical examination performed by an approved panel physician.
  • Passport-Style Photos: Recent passport-size photos that adhere to the U.S. visa photo requirements.
  • Visa Interview Appointment Confirmation: The appointment confirmation letter for the visa interview.
  • Other Documents: Any additional documents requested by the USCIS or U.S. embassy or consulate where the interview will take place.

Remember that specific document requirements might vary based on the country and the consulate’s instructions. It’s crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where the beneficiary will attend the visa interview. 

Related Links:

Family-Based Immigration: Immediate Relatives and the Preference System

I-130 Form, Petition for Alien Relative Guide

How to Fill Out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative – Step-By-Step Instructions

Form I-130 is Approved – What to Do Next?

U.S. Visa Bulletin