Understanding the F-2A Petition

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Author: Massiel Silva Tadeo, Founder, Tadeo & Silva

Attorney Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Updated on: June 02, 2023.

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What Is the F2A Visa Application?

Certain family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are permitted to apply for and obtain a family-based green card.

The U.S. immigration law divides family members into immediate and family-preference relatives. Immediate relatives are the spouses and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens. Meanwhile, family-preference relatives are either more distant relatives of U.S. citizens or certain relatives of lawful permanent residents.

The F2A is the second preference family visa. It allows permanent residents to bring their spouses and unmarried minor children into the U.S. F2A visas have an annual cap like other family preference visas. Therefore, processing time can be very long, and applicants will have to wait until the backlog is cleared and their turn arrives.


Am I Eligible to Receive an F2A Visa?


You are eligible for an F2A visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are the spouse of the legal permanent resident, or
  • You are an unmarried child of the permanent resident and are under 21.
  • You can prove your relationship with the petitioner.
  • Your petitioning relative is above 18.
  • Your petitioning relative lives in the U.S. and has a permanent registered address in the U.S.
  • Your legal permanent resident spouse or parent has enough finances to care for you.

If you are unsure whether you or your petitioning relative meets all the above criteria, consult an immigration lawyer for guidance. You may also check your eligibility for other green card categories if you don’t qualify for an F2A visa.

Filing an F2A Petition

The lawful permanent resident spouse is the one who files a petition on behalf of their F2A-qualified relative. They are referred to as the petitioner, while the foreign relative is the applicant. The process differs depending on whether the applicant is already in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa or is still abroad.

If they are already in the U.S., an immigrant visa may be available to the applicant at once, and they can apply for an adjustment of status. Meanwhile, F2A applicants yet to enter the country must apply for a green card through consular processing.


How Can an Applicant Outside the U.S. Apply for an F2A Visa?


The following is the F2A visa application process:

File the Petition

The permanent resident petitioner must complete and submit Form I-130 with the U.S.C.I.S. You can apply online or print a physical copy and mail it. The form has to be submitted with documents that prove a qualifying relationship between you and your relative applying for the green card. For example, if you are bringing a spouse to the USA, you must provide a marriage certificate.

National Visa Center

If the U.S.C.I.S. approves your petition, they will transfer it to the National Visa Center (N.V.C.) for processing. The N.V.C. will then add your case to their system and notify you when a visa becomes available in the F2A category. You need to pay the relevant processing fees and fill out Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, confirming that you can financially support your immigrant relative.

The petitioner must also fill out form DS-260 – immigrant visa electronic application – and scan and upload your relevant supporting documents. The N.V.C. will then schedule a visa interview for your relative in their home country’s embassy and send you and the applicant the approval documents.

Interview and Traveling

The applicant is expected to carry the original or certified copies of necessary documents at the interview.

After the interview, you will be informed of your visa approval or denial. If approved, you will be able to travel within six months. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection will inspect you on arrival in the U.S., and if admitted, your green card will be mailed to your residence.

If your visa is denied after the interview, the consulate would usually inform you of the reason for the denial, and you may be able to apply again.

What Documents Are Required for an F2A Application?

The documents you will require for the application depend on your unique circumstances. However, the following are some of the documents you can expect to provide along with your green card application:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificate
  • International passport with non-immigrant visa page, if applicable
  • Passport-style photographs
  • Visa application fee receipt
  • Medical examination and vaccination
  • Certified copy of police or court records, if applicable

A skilled immigration attorney can help you assemble the proper documentation or advise you on the supporting documents to file to increase the chances of your application’s acceptance. Here at Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys, we can provide legal immigration services tailored to your unique case.

Legal Implications and Challenges of the F-2A Petition

Navigating the complexities of the F-2A petition can present several legal hurdles, particularly surrounding the proof of relationship and the financial requirements of the Affidavit of Support. One common challenge is substantiating a genuine relationship, which may require more than just a marriage certificate. Complications often arise when couples fail to provide extensive documentation of their ongoing relationship, leading to delays or denials.

Furthermore, the financial obligations outlined in Form I-864 can be daunting. Petitioners must demonstrate adequate income or assets to support the immigrant relative, which can prove problematic for those with fluctuating or insufficient income. Additionally, changes in immigration policy or delays at consular offices can unpredictably affect the timing and success of the application process.

Addressing these challenges requires meticulous preparation and proactive management of the petition. It’s advisable for petitioners to gather comprehensive relationship evidence and ensure financial stability well ahead of the application. Consulting with an immigration attorney can also provide strategic guidance and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Adjustment of Status for Applicants in the U.S.

For F2A applicants already in the U.S., once the initial form I-130 is approved, you need to wait until the F2A visa becomes available. You can regularly check the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin to verify the availability of visas. Then, you apply for an adjustment of status by filing Form I-485 with the U.S.C.I.S.

If you have filed Form I-485, you do not have to leave the U.S. after your non-immigrant visa expires. However, you can work legally or travel out of the country only if you file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The travel authorization document is usually processed and approved within 20 weeks, whereas the employment authorization document can take up to 15 months.

Next, the U.S.C.I.S. will schedule you for a biometric appointment and an interview. You generally have to attend the interview with your petitioning relative, especially if the relative is a spouse. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security via the U.S.C.I.S. approves or denies the application.

How Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys Can Help 

Tadeo & Silva Immigration Attorneys can assist you in determining whether or not the F2A visa category is the right choice for you or if you should explore other categories, such as a marriage green card. We can also guide you through the visa application process to reduce the possibility of delayed or rejected applications. We provide passionate and personable service to our clients across the U.S., so don’t hesitate to contact us!

Frequently Asked Questions


How Much Does the F2A Visa Application Cost?

There are several fees to consider when making an F2A application. Form I-130 costs $535, Form I-485 costs $1,140, and biometric fees are $85 for people aged 14 – 78. There is also the Affidavit of Support fee of $120.

Finally, on getting one’s visa, there is a required $220 U.S.C.I.S. immigrant fee. You should also factor in mailing costs, attorney fees, and other miscellaneous costs.

What Is the F2A Visa Processing Time?

Due to the yearly numeric limit on available visas, predicting the exact visa processing time is difficult. It can take two to ten years for the U.S.C.I.S. to process and approve an F2A visa.

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