F4 Visa: Family Fourth Preference Visas

Updated on March 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • The F4 visa is granted to foreign immigrants who are siblings of a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. relative must file a petition on their behalf.
  • The visa has limitations due to annual caps, resulting in a lengthy application process and processing time.
  • Eligibility requires a sibling relationship, U.S. citizenship of the sponsoring sibling, and meeting certain conditions.
  • Required documents include a passport, form I-864, form DS-260 confirmation page, photographs, birth or adoption documents, and completed medical examination forms.

Are you a United States citizen who has a sibling living abroad that isn’t a U.S. citizen? Would you like to get your sibling a visa to enter the United States and join you? Well, there is a visa made specifically for that purpose.

The U.S. grants various kinds of visas, including the F1 visa and the F2 visa, depending on the applicant and their reason for entering the country. The specific visa we discuss in this article is called the F4 visa, also known as the Family Fourth Preference Visa, and it grants the sibling of a U.S. citizen entrance into the United States.

What Is an F4 Visa?

In simple terms, an F4 visa is granted to foreign immigrants who are the brother or sister of a U.S. citizen. It is worth mentioning here that lawful permanent residents are not allowed to sponsor a family member for an F4 visa.

In order to start the process, the specified U.S. relative must file a petition on behalf of an alien relative by filing Form I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security.

It is essential that the U.S. relative sponsoring the petition must be at least 21 years of age, must have their residence in the U.S., and must possess the required sibling relationship.

Limits on F4 Visas

Be aware that obtaining an F4 visa is not easy, mainly because of the limit imposed by the U.S. Because of the yearly imposed limits, only a limited number of applicants can apply for an F4 visa.

The visas are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. If the department receives tons of applications, this might delay the entire process. Further, the lengthy application process and processing time can lead to a delay of one to 10 years before a decision is provided.

However, once granted, this visa will remain valid until the expiration date provided on the visa.

Who Is Eligible for an F4 Visa?

To get an F4 visa, it is essential that both the siblings—one in the U.S. and the other living in a foreign country—meet certain conditions:

  • The sibling living in a foreign country must have a sibling who is a U.S. citizen.
  • The sibling living in the U.S. must be:
    • A U.S. citizen
    • At least 21 years of age
    • Living in the U.S. and have a valid U.S. address
    • Able to prove their relationship with the sibling in question either through birth certificates or adoption documents

Documents Required for an F4 Visa

You must present all the required documents in front of the National Visa Center (NVC) and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to convince them you and your family meet all the requirements and that you are eligible for an F4 visa. Here are the documents that you must produce for easy processing:

  • A valid passport
  • A signed form I-864 from your sibling
  • Form DS-260 confirmation page
  • Two photographs
  • Birth certificate or adoption documents
  • Completed medical examination forms

How to Apply for an F4 Visa?

The process is started by the U.S. citizen who files a petition for their sibling to join them in the U.S. Once this petition is approved, the siblings and their family can apply for an F4 visa. It is important to note that the application will remain ineligible without an approved petition.

Here is the basic process you need to follow:

  • File form DS-260

File form DS-260 electronically and follow the instructions. Once you submit the form successfully, you will get a confirmation page which you need to save and send to the NVC along with other supporting documents.

  • Comply with medical and vaccination requirements

If you want to move to the U.S. permanently, it is essential to comply with the required medical and vaccination guidelines. You can check with the NVC to have a look at the required medical checkups and vaccines.

  • Attend the interview

Attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence along with the required documents. They will ask questions about your background to determine if you are eligible for the visa or not.

  • Travel to the U.S.

If your visa is approved, your passport will be stamped and you will be provided with an NVC packet which you must not open under any circumstances. An official at the U.S. border will open the package to determine if you are allowed to enter the U.S. or not.

How Much Does an F4 Visa Cost?

To obtain an F4 visa, the petitioner is required to pay a range of fees from time to time. The amounts vary and are decided by the USCIC and the embassy.

Mainly, you are required to pay the following fees:

  • Form I-130 filing fee
  • Form DS-260 processing fee
  • Medical examination and vaccination fee
  • Translation fee
  • USCIS immigrant fee

F4 Visa Processing Time

Since the number of F4 visas that are issued every year is limited, the processing time is generally long. It could take anywhere between 1 and 10 years to get your visa processed.

Can an F4 Visa Holder Transition to a Green Card?

Yes, an F4 visa holder can transition to having a green card. However, the cap for this category is 65,000 green cards per year.

Read More

The Wrap Up

If you want to join your sibling in the United States, getting an F4 visa could be the ultimate solution. It is highly recommended to follow the official process of obtaining an F4 visa. And since the F4 visa processing time can be lengthy, you should get started as soon as possible!

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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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