Family Preference immigrant visas are US immigrant visas for reuniting families in the United States. You can get this type of green card if you have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States. Immediate relatives are your spouse, parent, child, or sibling. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles are extended relatives and are not eligible for this type of green card.

Family Green Cards are very useful for uniting families, but they all require a certain number of visas that can be issued within one year. The United States has determined the maximum limit for each visa and is provided in chronological order. Therefore, if your request exceeds the number of visas granted for that year, your visa will be processed in subsequent periods.

What is the F-3 visa?

The F-3 visa is granted to children of US citizens who are in foreign countries. This visa does not apply to unmarried children, but is only granted to married children of US citizens. Additionally, your spouse and minor children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) can also obtain the F-3 visa.

Since Family Green Card visas have a limited number of visas per year, the F-3 visa is only granted to 23,400 people in a year. If the one-year limit is reached, other visas will be granted in chronological order in subsequent years.

With an F-3 visa, married children of U.S. citizens can live permanently in the United States with their spouse and minor children. They can work legally without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and needing only a Social Security number, they can enroll in studies, as well as travel abroad and enter the United States whenever they need to.

What are the requirements for the F-3 visa?

The F-3 visa, like many other family visas, does not have extensive requirements. To be eligible for the F-3 visa, you must meet these conditions:

  • You must have a U.S. citizen parent and prove this with valid birth certificates or adoption documents
  • You must be over 21 years old
  • You must be married and prove it with a valid marriage certificate

As for the US citizen who wishes to bring their adult child to the United States permanently, these conditions must be met:

  • You must be a US citizen
  • It is necessary to have an adult child in a foreign country and prove this through birth certificates or adoption documents
  • You must live in the United States and have a valid US address

How to apply for F-3 visa?

The F-3 visa application process is long and involves many steps. The process is initiated by the US citizen who must submit an application to the US authorities for permission to bring his adult child, spouse, and minor children to the United States. If the request is approved, the child and his or her family in the foreign country can begin the application process. This means that the application is divided into two parts:

U.S. citizens file petitions for their adult child, spouse, and minor children with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Once the petition is approved, the adult child and his or her family must apply to the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country
You cannot obtain the F-3 visa if your petition to USCIS has not been approved. You will not be allowed to apply and will not be eligible for this type of Green Card.

Presentation of the petition:

The US citizen begins the application process by filing the petition with USCIS. The petition is filed by submitting a completed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to USCIS. The petition goes through the US Department of Homeland Security and is processed after the US citizen pays the fee. It is important that the U.S. citizen also lists the adult child’s spouse and minor children (if applicable) in the petition. This will ensure that the entire family of the US citizen’s child will be eligible to obtain the F-3 visa and go to the United States.

After that, USCIS processes the petition and, depending on workload responds within a few months. If the petition is denied, reasons for the denial will be provided so that the U.S. citizen can amend the petition and resubmit it. The National Visa Center (NVC) will receive the documents if the petition is granted.

The NVC sends a package of documents and instructions to applicants in a foreign country. The documents contain the case number and invoice identification number which will be used to apply for the actual visa at the US Embassy and to pay all necessary fees.

However, due to the limit on the number of F-3 visas, you will not be able to apply for the visa even if your application is approved if your priority date is not current. This means that if many other applications in front of you exceed the F-3 visa limit, then you will have to wait your turn. When your date is updated, you will receive a notification from the NVC and you can begin the second phase of the application process.

F3 visa application:

When the NVC notifies you that your priority date has become current, you can use the instructions in the package of documents you received from them to begin the application process to obtain the F-3 visa. Because the petition lists you as an adult child of a U.S. citizen, as well as your spouse and minor children, each individual must submit a visa application. The application is submitted to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

DS-260 file form:

Form DS-260, Electronic Immigrant Visa Application is the form that all immigrant visa applicants must submit. You, your spouse, and your children must each file a Form DS-260. The form is filled out online and you will need to provide detailed information about your background and reasons for immigration. You can access your DS-260 form by entering the NVC case number you received in your education packet. When you submit the form, you will receive a confirmation page and number which you will then need to submit to the NVC as part of your paperwork.

Complete medical examination and vaccination:

Anyone planning to immigrate and live in the United States must undergo a medical examination and obtain the necessary vaccines. In this case you, your spouse and minor children must undergo the necessary checks by a qualified doctor and vaccinations. The documents must be signed by the authorized doctor and you must submit them as part of your documents file to the NVC.

Compile document files:

Your document file must contain all the necessary documentation to support your case. You must convince the NVC and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you and your family meet all the requirements and are eligible to obtain the F-3 visa. The file must contain the following:

  • Your passports valid for more than 6 months after intended entry into the United States (your passport, that of your spouse, and any minor children)
    A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the U.S. petitioner (petitioner’s parent)
  • DS-260 form confirmation page
  • Medical examination and vaccination documents
  • Two US visa photos per individual based on photo requirements
  • Your valid marriage certificate to prove your marriage
  • Birth certificates or adoption documents for your children
  • Judicial and criminal records and/or police certificate
  • If you have been previously married, you must bring your divorce or death certificates to show that the marriage has been officially dissolved
  • If you served in the military, you must bring your military documents with you

Attend the interview:

After processing your supporting documents and determining that you meet all requirements, the NVC will schedule your interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence. You, your spouse and any minor children must attend the interview. You will be asked about your background and the official will determine whether you can obtain the F-3 visa to join your parents in the United States.

Get the NVC package and travel to the United States:

If your visa is approved and you and your family obtain the F-3 visa, it will be stamped in your passports. You will also receive a package that you will need to bring with you when you travel to the United States to enter for the first time with your immigrant visa. It is not necessary to open the package under any circumstances. Only immigration officials at the US port of entry can open it and determine whether you are eligible to enter the US or not.

How much does the F-3 visa cost?

There are various fees that the applicant and applicant must pay throughout the F-3 visa application process. The Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and the specific US embassy or consulate to which you are applying determine the fees, which can vary. The main categories of fees to be paid are the following:

Form I-130 filing fee:

  • Processing fee for DS-260 form
  • Expenses for medical visits and vaccinations
  • Costs for acquiring and translating each document that supports the claim

USCIS immigrant fee that you must pay after receiving your visa and before traveling to the United States. USCIS will not issue you a green card without you paying this fee.

How long is the F-3 visa processing time?

Since there are limits for Family Green Cards, processing times may be quite long. For the F-3 visa, the processing time can vary from 1 year up to extreme cases of 10 years. This is because there are so many people applying that they cannot all be examined at the same time.

Other types of family green cards:

Family Green Cards are marked with the prefix F. There are four types of these visas:

  • The F-1 visa is granted to unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens and their minor children (not to be confused with the F-1 student visa)
  • The F-2 visa is granted to the spouse and minor children (F-2A visa) or adult children (F-2B visa) of lawful permanent residents of the United States
  • The F-3 visa is granted to married children of U.S. citizens who will be going to the United States with their spouses and minor children
  • The F-4 visa is granted to siblings of U.S. citizens who are going to the United States with their spouse and minor children. To apply for this visa, the US citizen must be at least 21 years old.


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