Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders (F2A)

Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders (F2A)

Let us help you start your application today!

Last updated: April 8, 2024.

What Is the F2A Visa?

The F2A visa is a type of U.S. immigrant visa designed for the family members of lawful permanent residents, who are also known as green card holders. Specifically, the F2A visa is intended for the spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of green card holders. This visa category allows these family members to join their green card holder relative in the United States and become lawful permanent residents themselves.

Here are some key points about the F2A visa:

  • Eligibility: To be eligible for the F2A visa, you must be the spouse or unmarried child (under 21) of a green card holder. The green card holder (your family member) must have the intention to immigrate to the U.S. and live there permanently.
  • Priority Date: The F2A visa category is subject to annual numerical limits, which means there are a limited number of visas available each fiscal year. Because of this, there might be a waiting period before a visa number becomes available. The “priority date” is the date when the petition to sponsor the family member is filed. The waiting time can vary based on demand and the number of available visas.
  • Petition: The green card holder who wants to bring their spouse or unmarried child to the U.S. as an immigrant must file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition demonstrates the qualifying relationship between the green card holder and the family member.
  • Processing: Once the I-130 petition is approved, the relative becomes eligible to apply for the F2A visa. The process involves additional paperwork, background checks, medical examinations, and an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the family member’s home country.
  • Adjustment of Status: If the family member is already in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant status, they might be able to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) after the visa becomes available, without having to leave the U.S. This process is known as “adjustment of status.”
  • Consular Processing: If the family member is outside the U.S. when the visa becomes available, they will need to go through consular processing, attending an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country before being granted the F2A immigrant visa.

Who Can Apply for the F2A Visa?

The F2A visa is designed for the spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of lawful permanent residents (green card holders) in the United States. Here’s a breakdown of who can obtain the F2A visa:

  • Spouses: The spouse of a green card holder is eligible to apply for the F2A visa. This includes legally married spouses, regardless of the duration of the marriage. Same-sex spouses are also eligible, as long as the marriage is legally recognized.
  • Unmarried Children: Unmarried children who are under the age of 21 and are the biological, adopted, or stepchildren of a green card holder can also apply for the F2A visa. This includes minor children of the green card holder and their spouse.

It’s important to note that the green card holder (your family member) must have filed an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on behalf of the spouse or unmarried child. The approval of this petition is a crucial step in the process. Additionally, the F2A visa category is subject to annual numerical limits, which means that there might be waiting times for visa numbers to become available.

If the spouse or unmarried child is already in the United States under a different nonimmigrant status, they might be eligible to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident without having to leave the country. If they are outside the U.S. when the visa number becomes available, they can go through consular processing to obtain the F2A visa.

How to Apply for the F2A Visa?

Applying for the F2A visa involves several steps, including the filing of an immigrant petition, completing required forms, providing supporting documentation, undergoing background checks and medical examinations, and attending an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Here’s a general overview of the process:

Step 1. File Immigrant Petition (Form I-130):

  • The green card holder (your family member) must file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) on behalf of their spouse or unmarried child (under 21).
  • This petition establishes the qualifying relationship between the green card holder and the family member seeking the F2A visa.
  • The petition should be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Step 2. Wait for Petition Approval:

  • USCIS will review the I-130 petition. Once approved, the petition establishes the eligibility of the family member for the F2A visa.
  • Depending on the demand and numerical limits, there might be a waiting period until a visa number becomes available.

Step 3. Receive Notification:

  • Once a visa number is available, USCIS will notify the green card holder (petitioner) and the National Visa Center (NVC) will process the case.

Step 4. Complete DS-260 Form:

  • The NVC will provide instructions to the family member on how to complete the online DS-260 form, the Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
  • This form collects personal information and details about the family member’s background.

Step 5. Pay Fees:

  • Pay the required visa fees as instructed by the NVC.

Step 6. Collect and Submit Documents:

  • Gather required supporting documents, which may include passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), police certificates, and medical examination reports.
  • Submit these documents to the NVC as instructed.

Step 7. Undergo Medical Examination:

  • Before the interview, the family member will need to undergo a medical examination by an authorized panel physician.

Step 8. Attend Interview:

  • The NVC will schedule a visa interview appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the family member’s home country.
  • Attend the scheduled visa interview. The consular officer will review the documents, ask questions, and assess the eligibility for the F2A visa. Be prepared to answer questions about the relationship and other relevant details.

Step 9. Receive Visa or Request for Further Documentation:

  • If approved, the family member’s passport will be stamped with the F2A visa.
  • In some cases, additional documentation might be requested before the visa is issued.

Step 10. Enter the U.S.:

  • With the F2A visa, the family member can travel to the United States and present themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry.
  • CBP officers will determine whether the family member is admissible to the U.S.

Step 11. Adjust Status (If Already in the U.S.):

  • If the family member is already in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant status, they might be able to apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident without leaving the U.S. 

F2A Visa Checklist of Documents

While the specific document requirements for the F2A visa process can vary depending on individual circumstances and the U.S. embassy or consulate where the visa interview will take place, here is a general checklist of documents that are commonly required for the F2A visa application process:

  • Passport:
    • Valid passport for each family member intending to immigrate.
  • Form DS-260 Confirmation Page:
    • Printout of the confirmation page for the online Form DS-260, the Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
  • Visa Application Fee Receipt:
    • Proof of payment for the visa application fee.
  • Affidavit of Support:
    • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, filed by the sponsoring green card holder.
    • Supporting documentation such as tax returns, W-2 forms, and employment verification.
  • Civil Documents:
    • Birth certificates for each family member.
    • Marriage certificate (if applicable).
    • Divorce or death certificates of previous spouses (if applicable).
    • Adoption documents (if applicable).
  • Police Certificates:
    • Police certificates from all countries where the family member has lived for more than six months since the age of 16.
  • Medical Examination Results:
    • Medical examination results from an approved panel physician.
  • Passport-Sized Photos:
    • Passport-sized photos that meet the U.S. visa photo requirements for each family member.
  • Proof of Relationship:
    • Evidence of the relationship between the green card holder and the family member applying for the F2A visa. This can include photos, communication records, and any other relevant documents.
  • Proof of Intent to Depart the U.S.:
    • Evidence that the family member intends to return to their home country after a temporary stay in the U.S. This can include property ownership, employment, family ties, etc.
  • Visa Appointment Confirmation:
    • Printout of the appointment confirmation for the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Any Additional Documents Requested by the Consulate:
    • Some consulates might have specific document requirements, so it’s essential to check their instructions and follow any additional requests.

It’s crucial to review the specific instructions provided by the U.S. embassy or consulate where the visa interview will take place. The embassy or consulate’s website will usually have a detailed list of required documents and any additional steps specific to their location.

Additionally, keep in mind that all documents not in English must be accompanied by certified translations. It’s advisable to organize your documents neatly and bring both originals and photocopies to the visa interview.

How Much Does the F2A Visa Cost?

The cost of the F2A visa includes several components, such as the visa application fee, the immigrant visa fee, and potentially other expenses related to the visa application process. Keep in mind that these fees can change over time, so it’s important to verify the most current fees on the official USCIS website or the website of the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply.

Here are the general fees associated with the F2A visa application process:

  • Form I-130 Fee:
    • The current fee is $625 (if filing online), or $675 (if filing by mail)
  • Immigrant Visa Fee (DS-260):
    • The immigrant visa application fee is required for the principal applicant and each family member accompanying them.
    • The current fee is $325 
  • Medical Examination:
    • The cost of the medical examination varies depending on the panel physician and the country in which the examination is conducted.
  • Affidavit of Support Fee:
    • The green card holder (sponsor) is required to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to demonstrate financial capability to support the family member(s) seeking the F2A visa.
    • If beneficiaries will apply for immigrant visas abroad, a $120 fee must be paid for the Affidavit of Support.
  • Translations and Documentation Costs:
    • If documents are not in English, they must be accompanied by certified translations, which could incur additional costs.
  • Other Potential Costs:
    • Some applicants might need to incur costs related to obtaining required civil documents (such as birth certificates and marriage certificates), police certificates, and passport photos.

Please note that these fees are approximate and subject to change. Additionally, if the family member is already in the U.S. and seeks to adjust status to a green card holder, the fees and process might be different.

What Is the F2A Visa Processing Time?

The processing time for the F2A visa can vary widely based on a range of factors, including the current demand for visas, the backlog of applications, the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where the interview will take place, and the completeness and accuracy of the application.

The F2A visa category is subject to numerical limits (visa quotas) each fiscal year, and this can impact the waiting time for visa numbers to become available. Generally, the processing time can be broken down into several stages:

  • Immigrant Petition (Form I-130) Processing: The green card holder (sponsor) must file an immigrant petition on behalf of their spouse or unmarried child. The processing time for Form I-130 can vary, but it can take 12-13 months to be approved.
  • Waiting for Visa Number: Once the I-130 petition is approved, the family member must wait for a visa number to become available in the F2A category. This waiting time can vary significantly and may depend on the demand for visas.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: Once a visa number is available, the case is transferred to the NVC, which will process the required fees, forms, and documents before forwarding the case to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • U.S. Embassy or Consulate Processing: The specific U.S. embassy or consulate where the family member will have their visa interview will schedule the interview and process the case further. The wait time for the interview appointment can vary depending on the location.
  • Visa Interview and Administrative Processing: The family member will attend a visa interview, where their application will be reviewed. If approved, a visa will be issued. In some cases, additional administrative processing might be required, which can further extend the processing time.
  • Travel and Entry to the U.S.: After receiving the visa, the family member can travel to the U.S. and present themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry.

It’s important to note that these timeframes are approximate and can change due to various factors, including changes in U.S. immigration policies or backlogs in processing. Additionally, processing times can vary significantly from one U.S. embassy or consulate to another.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information about F2A visa processing times, it’s recommended to refer to the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin and the website of the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you plan to apply. Consulting with immigration professionals can also provide valuable insights into the current processing timelines.

 

Related Links:

Family-Based Immigration: Immediate Relatives and the Preference System

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Married to a Green Card Holder and Living Abroad

Married to a Green Card Holder and Living in the United States