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Who the F4 visa is for and how to go about qualifying for it

The F4 visa, also known as the Family Fourth Preference Immigrant Visa, allows the non-American siblings of United States citizens to lawfully come into the country. It allows them to bring their children and spouse into the country as well.

To begin the F4 visa petition process, it's necessary for the U.S. citizen to be at least 21 years old, reside in the U.S. and to be able to prove his or her relationship to the person they want to sponsor. If all this can be proven, the next step is for the U.S. citizen to complete an I-130 form.

This form, which is also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, must be submitted to the Department of Homeland Security to get the F4 visa application process started.

It's important to keep in mind that even if you apply for this visa and provide all the proof that Homeland Security is looking for, the visa request may not be approved. That's because, like every other visa offered by the U.S., only set amounts of F4s are awarded each year. To increase your changes of the application being approved, you should try to get it in as soon after the submission window has opened for the year.

Because of the sheer volume of applicants for this and other visas, you should be prepared to wait an extended period to hear back about the status of your application. Family members have waited as little as six to as many as 23 years to finally be granted an F4.

If your family member is one of the lucky few to get this visa, though, it's important that he or she doesn't allow it to expire. They should pay close attention to the expiration date and plan their visit accordingly.

Considering that the F4 visa is awarded on a lottery basis and that the processing of applications is lengthy, you may benefit from discussing your case with a Georgia immigration law attorney right way. He or she may be able to suggest alternative ways you can reunite your family as quickly as possible.

Source: USA Today, "What is an F4 visa?," Renee Kristi, accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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