All the family-based immigration categories are rooted in the American philosophy about family reunification. Out of 3,909,684 applicants on the shortlist, 6% are from the F1 category. The quota allowed for approval of F1 is 23,400 visas annually.
Before we discuss the F1 Visa process in detail, let us familiarize you with what family reunification is all about. Another part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), like the TPS, family-based immigration allows American citizens to petition US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Through it, they appeal to sponsor a qualifying relative. On approval, the relative in question achieves LPR status.
However, much has to happen before that outcome comes true. Take the waitlist on which the relative ends up after a successful appeal. They are judged sufficiently closely-related to the US citizen, but the cap on the family-based visas means they must await their turn. After they are off the waitlist, the relative will need to apply for a visa.
Family Preference Categories
This class of visas applies to individuals closely related to a US citizen or having a specified relationship with an LPR. However, keep in mind that as a cousin, in-law, aunt/uncle, or grandparent, you aren’t eligible to act as a sponsor. Let us consider the sub-classes in the family-based type of visa:
First Preference (F1)
F1 Visa Process can begin for unmarried offspring of US citizens – ones who are younger than 21. The number of visas that can be stamped in a year is 23,400. It may still take the relative 1-2 years to come to the US. Moreover, wait times for Mexico and the Philippines are 5 and 11 years.
Second Preference (F2)
After the First Preference Green Card, comes the option available to unmarried offspring older than 21, spouses, and any minor children. More than 75% visas from this category are for spouses and children. The number this time is 114,200, and the wait time is the same.
Third Preference (F3)
For married offspring and their families, this option is available. They may have to endure a longer wait time, i.e., 3-4 years – and longer for Mexico and the Philippines. The cap for this category is set at 23,400.
Fourth Preference (F4)
Siblings to US citizens – who are at least 21 themselves — and their families may apply for a visa of this class. The wait time is 10 years, while the cap is at 65,000. Like with the other classes, the wait time for the Philippines extends to 19 years!
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas
You shouldn’t confuse the family-based visas with the IR applicants. The latter are related to a US citizen by blood. There is no limit for the IR visa class. They can work for the following types of relations:
- IR-1 for the spouse
- IR-2 for an unmarried and younger than 21 child
- IR-3 for an adopted orphan while abroad
- IR-4 for an adopted orphan while in the US
- IR-5 for a parent
First Preference Visa Application Process
The Family Preference visa process for F1 may be divided into five main steps. We discuss it below:
File Form I-130
The sponsoring relative begins the procedure by filing Form I-130. Confirm with your attorney whether your relative who is a US citizen but is living abroad can file on your behalf.
The Case Gets Transferred to the NVC
F1 Visa Requirements dictate that the applicant waits for the USCIS’s approval. Afterward, their case goes to the National Visa Center (NVC). It gets a case number there. Only if their priority and qualifying dates match will the applicant get a notification to complete Form DS-261 – we cover this below. They won’t need one if they already have an attorney to handle their case.
Then the pre-processing begins, and the NVC instructs the applicant to pay the fees. Next comes the submission of the following documents:
- A passport that remains valid after six months once the application enters the US.
- Proof of sponsorship or Forms I-864 (or I-864A, EZ, or W).
- Form DS-260
- Two photographs in the desired format
- Civil documents along with translations and photocopies
- Forms after completion of the medical examination and vaccinations
Wait Until a Visa Becomes Available
Department of State (DOS) will see if the limit of 226,000 visas per year isn’t complete. The applicant might also get a spot on their list earlier if the previous fiscal year’s allocation did not run out. Even so, as you see above, the family-based visas category has several sub-categories. A certain percentage of the applications from all those classes must be included each year. Moreover, the applicant may also be hampered by the limits on their country of chargeability (mostly the country they were born in).
The priority date shows where a potential immigrant’s place is on the shortlist or visa queue. Once it becomes current, the immigrant can start the process for adjustment of status.
NVC will forward the applicant’s file to the US Embassy/Consulate in the latter’s country. Both the applicant and their attorney will receive information about the visa interview.
Attend the Visa Interview
A consular officer will interview to determine the applicant’s eligibility. We’d recommend only truthful answers. The applicant may get to know the result immediately or after several days/weeks.
How Much Does a First Preference (F1) Visa Cost?
Applicants will need to pay:
- $535 to file the I-130
- $325 for processing the DS-260
The applicant’s family can apply for visas too. They will need to follow the same format. Their eligibility will depend on the proper filing of Form I-485, along with an approved I-485 of the principal applicant. Thus, the status of the principal applicant as an LPR and their relationship to the family member at the time they applied will determine the outcome.
Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!
The Family Sponsored F1 visa process requires the guidance of an immigration and legal expert who treats their clients with compassion and professionalism. You won’t go wrong with Eric Price or their team handling your case!