If you want to move your family from the UK to the US, you will need a family second preference visa (F2), especially the F2A. Find out more about F2A, eligibility for an F2A visa, and the process of applying for an F2A visa for UK citizens.
For more information about the F2A Visa speak with our expert immigration lawyers today at 0333. 305 9375.
What is an F2A Visa?
Are you a legal permanent resident of the US with family in the UK? fortunately, it is possible to move your sibling, spouse, or child from the UK to join you in the United States. The US government issues various visa types depending on the applicants, their reasons for moving to America, and their relationship with US residents or citizens.
An F2A visa is one of many family preference visas that allow legal Americans to petition on behalf of their children or spouses. The F2A visa is part of the family immigration visas issued by the US immigration service.
The Family Immigration category is divided between family preference and immediate relative, and the F2A belongs to the family preference. F2A means second preference and relates to children and spouses of lawful permanent residents.
Since the F2A visa has a limitation or cap on the number, there is an increased demand for these visas, and the waiting times may be longer. Fortunately, once obtained, the family members of the US Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) become permanent US residents and are allowed to live in the US, study, and work there.
Who is eligible for the F2A Visa?
Unfortunately, foreign nationals cannot apply for an F2A visa directly. A permanent US resident must apply on behalf of the foreign nationals (spouses or children) to come to the US. The F2A visa (second preference family visa) is accessible to children and spouses of lawful permanent residents.
If you are petitioning on behalf of your spouse or kids in the UK, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old so that you can sign documents and consent to conditions
- Live in the US and possess a permanent registered address in the US. As a lawful permanent resident, you hold a green card, meaning you love and work legally in the U.S.
- Have a minimum income of at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Prove that you can financially support your spouse or unmarried children once they arrive in the US
Children of the petitioner must be both unmarried and under 21 years old. In addition, both spouses and children must provide all the required documents and pass all the eligibility requirements. Currently, there are different grounds for inadmissibility under the US immigration law. Some of the major categories of inadmissibility include:
- Prior removals or unlawful presence
- Fraud or misrepresentation
- National security issues
- Criminal convictions
- Health and medical reasons
How do I apply for an F2A Visa?
The F2A visa application process has two significant steps. The first step is the sponsor completing the petition on behalf of their spouse and children. Upon acceptance, the sponsor can then start the F2A visa application process.
Step 1: Filing the Petition
The sponsor begins the application process by filing form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). The sponsor then pays for the required fee with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The petition then goes to the Department of Homeland Security, where the USCIS processes it.
Step 2: Petition is processed
Once a sponsor submits the application form, the USCIS processes the petition, taking up to months. The USCIS determines whether to deny or approve the petition and subsequently sends the decision to the sponsor. If denied, the USCIS will inform you of the reasons for the rejection. Upon approval, the USCIS sends the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
Step 3: Getting A Case Number
The National Visa Center then sends the approval documents to the sponsor and the family. These documents include the petition’s case number, fees, payment instructions, and the next steps forward. Once the National Visa Center finishes the visa processing and sends the approval, your family may apply for an F2A visa. However, it is crucial to note that if the quota for the year has been arrived at, the visa application process does not begin until the following year.
Step 4: Complete Medical Examination and Vaccination
This process is mandatory for all those immigrating into the US. The applicants will have a set of documents highlighting what check-ups they must complete and a list of vaccinations. The applicant must complete the examination at a licensed physician who signs the documents and ascertains that the applicant has taken all the required vaccinations.
Step 5: Visa Interview
The sponsor’s family must undergo a visa interview at the US embassy or consulate in the UK. Once the National Visa Center is satisfied with its documents, it then schedules an interview for the sponsor’s family. At the interview, the family is asked questions concerning their background, among other concerns.
Step 6: Visa Approval
The embassy or consulate then decides whether or not the sponsor’s family receives the F2A visas. Upon approval, the embassy or official consular stamps the F2A passports. The spouse or children will also receive sealed documents that they are not allowed to open. Only the US immigration officer is permitted to open these documents as the visitors enter the country.
Fee Payment and Document Submission
The sponsor’s family is required to pay the application fees at their home country’s embassy or consulate. Upon payment completion, they are then required to submit:
- Affidavit of support. This is a contract stating that the sponsor agrees to use their financial resources to sponsor their family once they arrive in the US.
- Requested civil documents. These documents include an adoption or birth certificate, military records (if any), a certified copy of marriage certificate, any court records, police certificated for every country lived in, among others.
- Application forms. The family should submit Forms DS-260 and DS-261. Form DS-260 is submitted online. The sponsor’s family should enter their National Visa Center assigned case number to connect their application to the approved petition. Unless they have a lawyer, they may also be required to file Form DS-261.
How much does the F2A Visa cost?
The entire application process requires fees at different stages, which must be paid for processing the petition. This fee varies and is set by the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and the individual US consulate or embassy where the application is made. The major categories of fees to be paid include:
- Form I-130 filing fee, which currently starts from $535
- Form DS-260 processing fee
- The sponsor may need to pay for the affidavit of support which may cost $120
- Vaccination and medical examination fees
- USCIS immigrant fees which must be paid upon receiving the visa and before travelling to the US
- Fees for obtaining and translating all supporting documents
How long does It take to apply for the F2A Visa?
Approximating the time it takes to process an F2A visa application can be difficult. Generally, it takes some time for a visa application slot to avail itself. If the yearly quota has already been reached, you may need to wait until the subsequent year for the visa application to continue.
In addition, it is vital to note that visa applications are processed in chronological order. As such, there could be several visa applications pending applications before yours.
In addition, between every vital step, the organizations and offices involved in the petition, application, and approval process could take longer than you expect. Therefore, ensure you start the process as soon as you have compiled all the necessary documents. You will also need to attend the interviews as part of the process, and scheduling the interview may take a long time.
Is there an annual cap for F2A Visas?
Currently, the number of F2 visas is limited to 114,200 yearly due to a cap. 77% of these visas are designated for F2A visas, while the remaining are designated for F2B visas. If the number of petitions is above the cap, the excess number is rolled over to the following years in chronological order until the priority dates become current.
Can I apply for an F2A Visa online?
Part of the process can be conducted online for the F2A application. However, the majority of the process will require you to handle it physically. For instance, the interview at the US consulate or embassy requires your physical presence.
One of the benefits of having an F2A visa is accessing healthcare as a visa holder. An F2A visa is a visa type that allows legal permanent residents of the US to petition on behalf of their spouses and children.
However, it is important to understand that the foreign spouse and children cannot apply for the visa directly. The sponsor is required to petition on their behalf and provide an affidavit of support agreeing to support them once they come to the US. Generally, the petition and application process takes plenty of time. It is essential to begin the process as early as possible and have all the required documents ready.
How can Total Law help?
If you’re a legal permanent resident of the United States who has family in the UK, our immigration lawyers are here for you. Applying for an F2A Visa can be a complex process, but our immigration lawyers are knowledgeable about the F2A visa process and can assist you with your application.
Whether you require professional legal advice about your options or require assistance with the application process, our citizenship and immigration services are the solutions.
For more information about how our immigration lawyers can help you to apply for your student visa get in touch today by calling 0333 305 9375
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Frequently Asked Questions
People often get confused about the differences between the F2A and F2B visas due to their very distinct similarities. The F2A put simply, is used for the spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident, whilst the F1A visa is issued to unmarried children over the age of 21 whose parents are LPR’s or United States citizens.
It is certainly faster to file the I-130 online, but this method will not, however, speed up the government’s review process.
The processing time for the F2A visa can be anywhere between 1 and 10 years, due to the annual cap that the United States puts in place, which in turn increases demand and increases the overall processing time.