Who is eligible to apply for the F2A Visa?
An F2A visa is one of the many family preference visas that allow legal permanent residents to sponsor or “petition” on behalf of their children and spouses.
The F2A visa is part of the family immigration visas issued by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). The family immigration category for US visas is divided into two categories, which are family preference and immediate relative.
The F2A Visa belongs in the family preference category, which currently has an annual quota or cap of approximately 114,200 visas that are approved every year. Of this amount, the F2A Visa is allocated approximately 70%, approximately 80,000, and the other 30% is allocated to the F2B Visa, approximately 35,000. It is due to this cap on annual visas that the increase in demand may make the waiting time longer to be successful in this particular category.
The F2A Visa is reserved for the children and spouses of lawful permanent residents of the US, and it is this US citizen who will need to apply on behalf of the Canadian citizen wanting the F2A visa. A Canadian citizen wanting to move to the US permanently cannot apply for an F2A Visa directly.
For immigration purposes, it must be a legal spouse/partner/or recognized common-law partner for the application to count. For the children, it is important to note that the F2a Visa does extend to all biological and/or adopted dependent children. It does not extend to additional family members such as parents, grandparents, or siblings. All relationships will need to be proven through documentation.
Requirements for F2A sponsors
If you are petitioning for an F2A Visa on behalf of your spouse or dependents in Canada, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must live in the US, with a permanent registered address
- You must be a lawful permanent resident by birth or hold a valid green card, which allows you to live and work legally in the US
- You must have a minimum income of at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- You must prove that you can financially support your spouse and/or your dependents once they arrive in the US
- Any children that you are petitioning for must be unmarried, under the age of 21, and not living an independent life
In addition to these requirements of the US sponsor, both spouses and children must provide all of the required documents set out by the USCIS, and pass all the eligibility requirements.
How do I apply for an F2A Visa?
To begin the application process to apply for the F2A visa, the process is as follows:
Step 1: Filing the Petition
The US sponsor (family member) must begin the application process by filing Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative. The sponsor then pays for the required fee of $535 with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
It is important to keep a personal safe copy of the paid invoice for these fees, as they will be required as part of the documentation required later on in the process. The petition then goes to the DHS, where the USCIS processes it.
Step 2: Petition is processed
Once a US sponsor submits the application form, the USCIS will process the petition, which can take several months.
The USCIS will then determine whether to approve or deny the petition and will subsequently send the US to sponsor notice of their decision.
If the petition has been denied, the USCIS will inform you of the reasons for the rejection. Upon approval, the USCIS will send the petition to the National Visa Centre (NVC) for further processing.
Step 3: Getting A Case Number
Upon receiving the petition from USCIS, the NVC will send the approval documents to the US sponsor and the family members who are applying for the F2A Visa.
These documents will include the petition’s case number, applicable fees, payment instructions, and instructions on how to proceed. Once the NVC has finished the visa processing and sent the approval, your family may now apply for the F2A visa.
However, it is crucial to note that if the quota for the year has been reached, the visa application process will not begin until the following year, as F2A Visas are processed in chronological order. You will be advised if this is the case.
Step 4: Complete Medical Examination and Vaccination
This process is mandatory for everyone who wishes to immigrate to the US.
The applicants will have a set of documents highlighting what specific check-ups they must complete, and a list of vaccinations that are required.
The applicant must complete the examination at a licensed physician, who must sign the documents clearing a good bill of health, and ascertain that the applicant has taken all the required vaccinations.
Step 5: Attend a Visa Interview
The applicants for the F2A Visa must attend a visa interview at the US Consulate in Canada. Once the NVC is satisfied with all the received documentation, a visa interview will be scheduled for the applicants.
At the interview, the applicants will be sworn in and asked a series of questions concerning their background, nature, relationship with the US sponsor, and any other line of questioning they wish to approach at their discretion.
Children who are under the age of 14 will not be required to attend the visa interview.
Step 6: Visa Approval
The Embassy will decide whether or not they will approve the F2A visas, they will advise the applicants. If denied, you will be provided with a letter that explains the decision, and what steps you are eligible to take next.
Upon approval, the F2A passports will get their visa stamps, and each successful applicant will be given a sealed document that they are not permitted to open.
Only a US immigration officer is permitted to open these documents as you enter the US in your port of entry.
The F2A visa applicant is required to pay the application fees at the US Consulate in Canada. Upon payment completion, they are then required to submit the following documentation:
- An affidavit of support – This is a contract stating that the US sponsor agrees to financially support their family once they arrive in the US
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate(s)
- Military records
- Court records
- Police certificates from all countries previously lived in
All applicable application forms, which may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Form DS-260, inclusive of the NVC’s assigned case number to your application
- Form DS-261, which may not be required if you have utilized the help of an immigration lawyer
What are the fees associated with an F2A?
The application process will require fees, which are non-refundable if the application is rejected, and which must be paid for to process the petition.
A breakdown of the estimated fees are as follows:
- Form I-130 filing fee – Approximately $535
- Form DS-260 processing fee- Varies
- The sponsor may need to pay for the affidavit of support $120
- Vaccination and medical examination fees – Varies
- USCIS immigrant fees, which must be paid upon receiving the visa and before travelling to the US – Varies
- Fees for obtaining and translating all supporting documents – Varies
- Moving and transport fees – Varies
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An F2A visa holder is permitted to obtain employment and work in the US. without needing to apply for an employment authorization document from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, obtain a valid Social Security number, and study in a school or a university to further the educational experience.
No, the F2A visa is strictly available for legally married spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21.
The processing time for an F2A visa petition and application can take a long time – this is mainly due to the annual cap on the number of visas that the US immigration issues. As such, the processing time for an F2A visa petition and application can range from 1 – 10 years.
This does occur in some instances. If this occurs, your family should contact USCIS and the consulate in Canada because it is likely they are now eligible for an immediate relative visa, which, unlike the F2A visa, does not have a quota for applications accepted each year.
There are 8 across Canada.
Regardless of the type of visa you select for your circumstances, the best step is to get in touch with the team at Total Law, so you know that you are guaranteed the right path, and stand for a much higher success rate for your immigration application. You can contact us seven days a week, either on the phone or by using the online chat function to speak with one of our client care agents.