What is the F3 Visa for Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens?
The F3 category refers to the Family Preference Category for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. This category is a part of the U.S. family-based immigration system, allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor their married adult children for lawful permanent residency in the United States.
Here are the key points about the F3 category:
- Eligibility: The F3 category is designed for the married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. This means that U.S. citizens can petition for their adult children who are married to obtain lawful permanent resident status (green card) in the U.S.
- Preference Category: The family-sponsored immigration system is divided into several preference categories, and F3 is one of them. The F3 category is subject to numerical limitations, meaning that there are a limited number of visas available each year for this category.
- Waiting Period: Due to the high demand and limited number of visas, there is usually a significant waiting period associated with the F3 category. It takes 14 years and longer to obtain an F-3 visa. This waiting period can vary depending on factors such as the country of origin of the beneficiary and the number of available visas.
- Application Process: The U.S. citizen sponsoring their married son or daughter must file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition is approved, the beneficiary needs to wait until a visa becomes available in the F3 category before they can apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident.
- Derivative Beneficiaries: In the F3 category, the spouse and unmarried children of the principal beneficiary (married son or daughter) can also be included as derivative beneficiaries in the same petition. This allows the entire family unit to immigrate together.
- Visa Bulletin: The Visa Bulletin, published by the U.S. Department of State, provides information on visa availability in the various family and employment preference categories. The F3 category’s visa availability dates can be found in the Visa Bulletin.
- Updates: Immigration policies and regulations can change over time. For the most current and accurate information about the F3 category and other immigration matters, it’s recommended to consult the official U.S. government sources such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State.
How to Apply for an F3 Visa?
To apply for an F3 visa, which is the Family Preference Category visa for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, you will need to follow a series of steps. Here is a general outline of the application process:
Step 1. Petition Filing by U.S. Citizen Sponsor:
- The U.S. citizen sponsor needs to file an immigrant petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) on behalf of the married son or daughter. This petition establishes the qualifying family relationship.
- The I-130 petition should be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petitioner must provide supporting documentation and pay the required filing fee.
Step 2. I-130 Petition Approval:
- Once the I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, you will receive a Notice of Approval (Form I-797).
- The approval notice will indicate that the petition has been forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
Step 3. Visa Number Availability:
- Family preference categories, including F3, have limited visa numbers available each year. The availability of visa numbers can vary, and you will need to wait until a visa number becomes available in the F3 category.
Step 4. NVC Processing:
- The NVC will notify the petitioner and beneficiary when they receive the approved I-130 petition.
- The NVC will provide instructions for submitting the necessary fees and supporting documentation, including the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and the Online Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-260).
- You will also need to gather and submit required civil documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, police certificates, and more.
Step 5. Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status:
- Depending on your circumstances, you will either go through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad or apply for adjustment of status if you are already in the U.S.
- If you’re processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate, you will attend an interview and provide additional documentation.
- If you’re adjusting status in the U.S., you will file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with other required forms and documents.
Step 6. Medical Examination and Biometrics:
- As part of the immigration process, you will need to undergo a medical examination by an approved physician.
- Biometrics (fingerprints, photograph) will also be collected as part of the process.
Step 7. Interview and Decision:
- If you’re going through consular processing, you will attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- If you’re adjusting status, you might be required to attend an interview with USCIS.
- The consular officer or USCIS officer will review your case, conduct the interview, and make a decision on your visa or adjustment of status application.
Step 8. Entering the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident:
- If your visa or adjustment of status application is approved, you will receive your immigrant visa or green card, depending on the processing path you took.
- With the immigrant visa or green card, you can enter the U.S. and become a lawful permanent resident.
F3 Visa Filing Fees
The filing fees for the F3 visa (Family Preference Category 3) application can change over time. Here are the typical filing fees that were applicable at that time:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: The filing fee for Form I-130, which is filed by the U.S. citizen sponsor on behalf of the married son or daughter is $535. The most current Form I-130 filing fee can be found here.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): The U.S. citizen sponsor is required to submit an Affidavit of Support along with supporting financial documentation. There is no specific fee for the Affidavit of Support form if applying for a green card in the U.S. through Adjustment of Status, but for applicants located abroad a fee of $120 must be paid to NVC.
- Online Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-260): If you’re processing through a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, you might need to pay the online immigrant visa application processing fee of $325 which is typically paid through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).
- Medical Examination and Vaccination Costs: Applicants will need to undergo a medical examination by an approved panel physician. The cost of the medical examination and any required vaccinations will vary based on the physician’s fees and the country where the examination takes place. It can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 to complete the medical examination.
How Long Does it Take to Obtain an F3 Visa?
Obtaining an F3 visa (Family Preference Category 3) can take anywhere from 14 years to 25 years to complete. The exact timeline depends on the applicant’s country of birth. Here are some of the factors that can influence the processing time:
- Visa Availability: The F3 category, like other family preference categories, is subject to numerical limitations. The availability of visas in this category depends on the annual allocation of visa numbers. If there is a backlog or limited availability of visas, it can result in longer waiting times.
- Country of Origin: The processing time can vary depending on the country from which the beneficiary is applying. Some countries (Mexico and Philippines) might have longer wait times due to high demand, while others might have shorter wait times.
- Priority Date: The priority date is the date on which the Form I-130 petition was filed by the U.S. citizen sponsor. The beneficiary’s visa number becomes available based on the priority date and the category’s visa bulletin. If the priority date is older, the waiting time might be shorter.
- Processing by NVC: The time taken by the National Visa Center (NVC) to process the case and schedule the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate can impact the overall processing time.
- Administrative Backlogs: Periodically, there might be administrative backlogs or delays that can affect the processing times of all types of visa applications.
- Interview Scheduling: If the beneficiary is going through consular processing, the availability of interview slots at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the beneficiary’s country can impact the overall processing time.
- Completeness of Documentation: The accuracy and completeness of the submitted documents can impact how quickly the application progresses through the various stages of processing.
- Demand and Capacity: The overall demand for visas in the F3 category and the capacity of U.S. government agencies to process applications can also influence the processing time.
F3 Visa Checklist of Required Documents
The document requirements for the F3 visa (Family Preference Category 3) application can vary based on individual circumstances and whether you’re going through consular processing or adjusting status within the U.S. Below is a general checklist of documents that might be required for the F3 visa application process:
Petition and Initial Documentation (Form I-130):
- Completed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by the U.S. citizen sponsor.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship of the sponsor (at least one of the following: copy of unexpired U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or Consular Report of Birth Abroad).
- Proof of qualifying relationship between the U.S. citizen sponsor and the married son or daughter (e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption records if applicable).
- Payment of the filing fee for Form I-130.
National Visa Center (NVC) Processing:
- Completed Online Immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-260) for each family member applying.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) with supporting financial documents to demonstrate the sponsor’s ability to financially support the intending immigrant.
- Civil documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates, and police certificates, as required by the NVC.
- Passport-style photographs for each applicant.
- Payment of required visa fees and processing fees through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).
Consular Processing (if applying outside the U.S.):
- Visa application confirmation page (Form DS-260 confirmation page).
- Valid passport for each applicant, with a validity that exceeds 6 months
- Medical examination results from an approved panel physician.
- Police certificates from all countries where the applicant has lived for a certain period.
- Evidence of financial support and sponsor’s ability to provide support.
- Original or certified copies of required civil documents.
Adjustment of Status (if applying within the U.S.):
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, for each family member applying for adjustment.
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, sealed in an envelope by an approved civil surgeon.
- Evidence of financial support and sponsor’s ability to provide support (Form I-864).
- Passport-style photographs for each applicant.
- Evidence of lawful entry into the U.S.
- Applicant’s birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce certificate (if applicable)