The Family Preference Visa Program is part of the United States immigration system, and it facilitates family reunification by allowing U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for immigration.
This program has four main preference categories, each catering to specific family relationships.
F1 – unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can sponsor their unmarried adult children (over 21) for an F1 visa. This category has a cap on the number of visas issued annually, which often results in substantial waiting periods. Each area has different average waiting periods. For example, visitors from Mexico City, wait an average of 835 days to receive their Visa.
F2 – spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs
LPRs can help their immediate family, like spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters under 21, get F2 visas. Like the F1 category, visa availability is usually limited, leading to waiting times.
F3 – married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
U.S. citizens can also sponsor their married adult children (regardless of age) for F3 visas. Similar to the F1 category, there may be substantial wait times due to visa limitations.
F4 – brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens
In the F4 category, U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can sponsor their adult siblings for immigration to the United States. This category often experiences long waiting periods due to visa limitations.
To sponsor a family member under the Family Preference Visa Program, the U.S. citizen or LPR petitioner must meet specific eligibility criteria. Additionally, the sponsored family member must meet various requirements, including security and medical checks. Usually, you start by applying for a visa, then wait for a visa number to be ready and finally complete the consular processing or status adjustment.