The term ‘Green Card’ refers to a variety of immigrant visas issued by the United States. The 'Family Preference Visa' is a subcategory of US immigration visas that includes the F4 visa as well. With these visas, Permanent Residents of the US can reunite with their families. It includes the siblings of the US resident along with their spouses and any minor unmarried children.
The demand for these visas is particularly high due to families wanting to reunite in the States. Therefore, the United States exclusively issues a certain amount of family visas. If the number of Green Cards that can be granted each year exceeds the limitation, the rest of the applications will be processed the next year.
Requirements for the F4 visa
The eligibility requirements for F4 Visa exist for both the sibling who lives in the US and the sibling who wants to reunite with the US citizen. The sole condition for gaining an F4 visa is having a sibling in the US who is a permanent resident of the States. Your spouse and children can qualify for this visa as well.
The following requirements must be met by any US citizen who wants to shift their sibling there permanently:-
● Being a US citizen is a must
● Being 21 years of age is required.
● You must provide birth certificates or adoption records as proof that you have a sibling.
● Having a valid US address and living there permanently is another requirement
How to Apply for the F4 Visa?
The F4 application process for immigration and visas must begin with the U.S. citizen petitioning for their sibling to relocate to the country. The petition needs to have the go-ahead before the siblings and their families can even begin the application process for USA dependent visa
. A Petition for Alien Relative, or the I-130 form, has to be uploaded by the US citizen, and the sibling who is in the process of relocating needs to be listed as the principal applicant.
If the sibling is married and has minor children, the spouse and kids need to be mentioned as well. Once the Department of Homeland Security receives the petition, it's expected to take a few months to process the application. You will eventually be notified by the USCIS of its approval or denial and if a petition is rejected, the reason will be given and you get the option to resubmit it after making the necessary changes. The documents are sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) if the petition is granted.
The NVC then sends you a package of instructions and paperwork. The case number and invoice ID number are both included in this paperwork and it is used to collect payments during the application process. However, you cannot begin the application process until the priority date is changed to a 'current status' which takes time due to the annual limit on the number of F4 visas that can be authorized in a year.
Applying For the F4 Visa
The NVC will inform you regarding the date to begin your F4 visa application procedure. It can only be possible when your priority date is changed to the ‘current status’. If you are married and have children younger than 18 years, each of you must individually submit an F4 visa application. This is processed at a U.S. Embassy or the Consulate
in the nation where you currently reside.
File Form DS-260
All applicants for immigrant visas must submit Form DS-260, an Immigrant Visa Electronic Application. You need to log in using your NVC case number to this online form, where you are expected to provide your background information and your reason for immigration. You will receive a confirmation page and number after submitting the DS-260 form, which needs to be saved and sent to the NVC along with your other supporting documents.
Medical Examination and Vaccination
If the intention is to stay in the US permanently, all immigrants who apply must fulfill the nation's medical and vaccine conditions. Due to this, the NVC will let you know what medical exams and vaccinations you and your family need to get done in order to meet the F4 visa criteria. You will also have to fill out the paperwork and have it signed by a trained physician.
Compile the documents file
Each and every piece of supporting material must be in your documents file. In order to obtain an F-4 visa for you and your family, you must satisfy and meet all requirements of the NVC and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The following are the documents that should be curated in the file:
● Your valid passports for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the U.S (your passport, your spouse’s, and minor children’s if applicable)
● A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the U.S petitioner (applicant’s sibling)
● The confirmation page of Form DS-260
● Medical examination and vaccination documents
● According to the Photo Requirements, two photographs per individual
● To prove your marriage, your valid marriage certificate
● Birth certificates or if the case demands adoption documents
● Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
● If you have been married previously, you need to prove the marriage was officially terminated so the divorce papers or certificates of death are required
● Your military records if you have served in the military
All applicants for immigration and visas eventually have a meeting with a representative at the American embassy or at the Consulate of their country of residence. You will be rescheduled for this interview by the NVC when it's confirmed that you have sent all the required paperwork. Your background will be examined during the duration of this interview and a decision regarding granting the F4 Visa will be made.
Receive the Package from the Embassy and Travel to the U.S.A.
Your passport will be stamped if the Embassy approves of your visa and then you will also be provided with a package you need to bring along with you when you arrive in the United States. This package needs to be opened by an immigration official at the U.S. port of entry, who then will decide whether or not you are permitted to enter the country.
F4 Visa Fees
The cost of a sibling green card varies depending on each case's nature and requirement. The fee is approximately around $2,000—not including the medical examination fee— but even this can definitely grow. The Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Embassy, or the Consulate where you are applying and the USCIS has a hand in deciding the fees, which is why it varies. The following are the main categories of fees that need to be paid:
● Form I-130 filing fee
● Processing fee for the Form DS-260
● Medical examination and vaccination fees
● Fees to get and translate all the supporting documents
● USCIS Immigrant Fee which you must pay after you
receive your visa and before you travel to the U.S.
Without the complete payment of the fee, the USCIS will not issue you a Green Card.
Sibling Green Card Processing Time
There are four categories of family-based green cards. The processing time is the longest for the sibling category because it ranks at the bottom of the four categories. An F4 visa might take from a year to even eleven years to process. In a few cases, it can even reach the extreme of twenty-two years.
Navigating through the visa process is something every person finds difficulty with, which is why visa agents are approached. These visa agents, along with experienced professionals help you during this time-taking procedure.