F2a Visa: How to Bring Your Child or Spouse to the U.S.

Updated on March 6, 2024

At a Glance

  • The F2A visa is an immigrant visa for spouses and minor children of green card holders, granting them permanent residence in the US.
  • It allows the visa holders to work and study in the US.
  • The F2A visa has specific eligibility requirements, and the application process involves filing a petition, submitting documents, attending an interview, and undergoing medical examinations.
  • The processing time can be lengthy, and if the petitioner becomes a US citizen during processing, the applicant may qualify for a faster Immediate Relative (IR) visa.

If you are the spouse or minor child of a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who wishes to move to the U.S. permanently, then you will need to apply for an F2A visa. We will go over the F2A visa in detail in this article.

What Is the F2A Visa?

Belonging to the family of F visas (which also includes the F1 visa and the F4 visa), the F2A visa is a U.S. immigrant visa used by spouses and minor children of green card holders to move to the U.S. permanently.

It is important to note that the waiting time involved in securing an F2A visa is quite long. This is because only a certain number of F2A visas are issued each year. The best thing about an F2A visa is that it allows the family members of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) to become permanent residents of the U.S. F2A visa holders are also allowed to work and study in the U.S.

Difference Between the F2A and F2B Visa

Quite predictably, people get confused between F2A and F2B visas due to their similar nature. However, there is a significant difference between the two. While the F2A visa is used for the spouse or unmarried child (under the age of 21) of an LPR, the F2B visa is issued to an unmarried child who is older than 21 years of age.

Who Is Eligible for the F2A Visa?

To be eligible for an F2A visa, you must meet a certain set of requirements, including:

  • The child must be unmarried.
  • The child must be below 21 years of age.
  • The applicant must be able to prove their relationship with the sponsor in the U.S.

These requirements must be met by the family members applying for an F2A visa, but along the same lines, the LPR who is petitioning for their family members is also required to meet certain criteria, including:

  • The LPR must be at least 18 years of age so they can sign the required documents with consent.
  • The LPR must be a resident of the U.S. and must have a registered address.

How to Apply for the F2A Visa?

The entire application process consists of two important parts:

  • The process is initiated by the LPR in the U.S. by filing a petition for their spouse or minor children to the USCIS.
  • Once the petition is approved, the spouse or child must apply to the U.S. embassy in their country of residence.

It is important to note that if the spouse or child initiate the process without getting the petition approved, it is likely that their application will not be considered.

Let’s continue with the rest of the steps that need to be followed.

Filing the petition

The U.S. LPR must begin the process by filing Form I-130 to the USCIS and pay the required fee. The petition will then be processed by the USCIS and they will either approve or reject the petition. If the petition is rejected, they will provide the reason behind the rejection.

However, if the petition is approved, the petitioner will need to send the required documents to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.

Once processed, the NVC will inform you about the next steps. However, it is important to note that only 80,000 petitions are approved each year.

Applying for the F2A Visa

The rest of the application process will be taken care of by the applicant, so the petitioner doesn’t need to produce any further documentation.

Form DS-260

Also called Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-260 is required to be submitted by all immigrant visa applicants. It can be submitted online. The applicant is required to provide all the important details including their NVC case number and invoice ID number.

Once the form is submitted, the applicant will be provided with a confirmation number which will come in handy during the later stages.

Medical examination and vaccination

The applicant is required to complete all the required vaccinations and medical examinations before moving to the U.S. It is recommended to get all the examinations done by a licensed doctor to avoid any problems later on.

Compile the F2A visa documents file

It is recommended that the applicant produce all the required and supporting documents to present their case strongly. Here is the list of required documents:

  • Form DS-260 confirmation page
  • Signed Form I-864
  • Valid passport
  • Photographs
  • Medical examination documents
  • Marriage certificate, if you are the spouse of the LPR
  • Birth or adoption certificate, if you are the child of the LPR
  • Military records, if you have served in the military previously

Attend interview

Once all of the documents are processed, the interview will be scheduled at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The applicant will be asked certain questions to determine if they are the right fit.

Receive the NVC packet and travel to the U.S.

If everything goes fine, the applicant will soon move to the U.S. permanently. The applicant will be provided with a sealed packet of documents which they are not required to open. Once they reach the U.S., they will need to provide this packet to the immigrant officials. Once it’s verified, you will be able to enter the U.S. successfully.

How Much Does the F2A Visa Cost?

Both the petitioner and applicant are required to pay various fees in order to get the F2A visa. The fees vary and are determined by the USCIS, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Individual US Embassy or Consulate.

All in all, the following fees are required to be paid:

  • Form I-130 filing fee
  • Form DS-260 processing fee
  • Vaccination and other medical examination fees
  • Fees to get varied documents translated
  • USCIS immigrant fee which is to be paid after receiving the visa and before traveling to the U.S.

What Is the F2A Visa Processing Time?

As already mentioned, the processing time for the F2A visa varies based on the number of applicants and the workload of the government agency in charge of processing the applications. As a matter of fact, the applications are processed in chronological order, so it all depends on the number of applicants before you.

On average, it will take a year or more to process your application.

What if the Petitioning LPR Gets a U.S. Citizenship While the F2A Visa Is Still Under Processing?

It is likely that the LPR could qualify for a U.S. citizenship before you get an F2A visa, all thanks to the long processing time. However, the good news is that if your petitioner gets a U.S. citizenship, you will qualify for a different type of visa—the Immediate Relative (IR) visa. Since this visa doesn’t have a cap on the number of accepted applications, the processing time is much faster!

The Wrap Up

The F2A visa is a good way to help you move to the U.S. if you meet the required eligibility criteria and if you are able to prove your relationship with the petitioner. Just be aware that the processing period can be a long time, and you’re not guaranteed to be approved automatically because of the cap put on the number of approved applications per year.

So, what are your views on this? Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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