Family Preference Immigrant Visas, abbreviated as F-Visas, allow US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to bring their family members to the United States. Holders of these visas have many benefits, but unfortunately, the US government has defined a cap for these visas.

The types of F visas are F1, F2, F2A, F2B, F3, and F4. In the following paragraphs, we will cover important issues such as the US F3 visa application process, its requirements, costs, processing time, and other details.

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US F3 Visa

What is an F3 visa?

The F3 visa USA is for children of US citizens living in another country. Note that children who are married are eligible for a US F3 visa. Children’s family members, including their spouses and children, can also apply for a US F3 visa.

Holders of a US F3 visa have many benefits. For example, they can work legally without having to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). They can also continue their education. Besides, they can enter or leave the United States without any restrictions.

What are the requirements for a US F3 visa?

To be eligible for a US F3 visa, you must consider the following:

  • Your parents must live in the United States. Note that the relationship between you and your parents must be proven by providing documents such as a birth certificate or adoption document.
  • You, as a US F3 visa applicant, must be at least 21 years old.
  • You must be married and be able to provide a valid marriage certificate.

Your parents in the United States should consider the following:

  • They must be US citizens. They must also have a valid address.
  • Their child applying for a US F3 visa must live in a foreign country. Their relationship must be proven by presenting a birth certificate or marriage certificate.

How to apply for an F3 visa?

The US F3 visa application process is a bit complicated. A US citizen must first file a petition to obtain permission for the child and his or her family members to enter the United States. Once the petition has been approved, US F3 visa applicants in their home country must begin the US F3 visa application process.

You will not be able to begin the US F3 visa application process until the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your petition.

File a petition to USCIS for an F3 visa USA

This step is the first one in the US F3 visa application process. The petitioner or US citizen must first file a petition to the USCIS by filing  Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The petitioner must also pay a fee as a processing cost. The US Department of Homeland Security reviews and processes the petition. Note that besides your child’s name, you must also list the names of his or her family members in the petition.

USCIS will announce the outcome of the petition within a few months. If your petition is rejected, the reasons for this decision will be explained to you. Otherwise, your file will be submitted to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.

NVC will first send you a package in your home country. This package contains the case number and instructions that explain the visa application process to you. In the next steps, you will need the case number issued by NVC to complete some of your forms.

As the annual issuance of F-visas, including F3 visas, is limited, you will not be able to initiate the US F3 visa application process once your petition has been approved. In other words, when your petition is approved, you must wait for your priority date to become current. An NVC package will then be sent to you, and you can begin the visa application process.

Apply for a US F3 visa

The previous step is done in the United States by a US citizen who is one of your parents. This step will be done by you who are applying for a US F3 visa in your home country. The US F visa application process is as follows:

Complete and submit Form DS-260

All US immigrant visa applicants, including US F3 visa applicants, must complete this form. You can log in to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website and access the form using your case number issued by NVC. After completing the form, a confirmation page will appear for you that you must save because, in the next steps, you will have to submit it to NVC as part of your documentation.

Perform medical examinations and vaccinations

You will need to have some checkups before entering the United States. It is also essential to get some vaccines. The NVC instructions explain what checks you should do and where you should go to do these tests. A licensed physician will examine you and complete and sign some forms. These forms will also be part of the documentation that you must provide to NVC.

Prepare documents and send them to NVC

You need to prepare the following documents and submit them to the NVC:

  • A valid Passport: You must present a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the United States.
  • Documents related to medical examinations
  • Two photos
  •  DS-260 Confirmation Page
  • Documents such as identity cards, marriage certificates, adoption certificates (you can also read our article about IR3 and IR4 visas)
  • Criminal records
  • If you are already married, you will need to provide documents such as a divorce certificate or death certificate to show that your previous marriage ended.
  • If you have served in the military, you can provide your military records.
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support that is signed by petitioner or US citizen

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Participate in the interview

If all your documents are correct, NVC will schedule an interview at the embassy. You must be at the embassy on the due date and answer the questions asked by the consular officer carefully. At the end of the interview, he/she will decide whether to grant you a visa based on your answers. Therefore, it is very important to answer the questions carefully and honestly.

Get another NVC package and travel to the US

When your US F3 visa application is approved, the visa will be stamped in your passport. NVC will then send you another package that you will receive through the embassy. Keep in mind that you should not open this package under any circumstances. Upon arrival in the United States, you must give the packet to immigration officers, who will then make the definitive decision about whether you will enter the United States based on the information in this package.

US F3 visa latest news

The current priority date for a US F3 visa has not been announced yet. Further information about the program will be provided.

You should also check your status in USCIS to check for updates.

How much does it cost to apply for a US F3 visa?

You have to pay a fee for different services and actions. The amount of these costs varies and is determined by USCIS. So it is not possible to estimate how much you should pay precisely. But you should definitely pay a fee for each of the following actions:

  • Filing Form I-130
  • Form DS-260 processing
  • Performing medical examinations
  • Translation of documents into English
  • Getting supporting documents
  • All F3 visa applicants must pay a USCIS Immigrant Fee before arriving in the United States. Otherwise, their petition for a Green Card will not be approved.

How long does it take to assess the submitted documents and issue a US F3 visa?

As mentioned, the issuance of the US F3 Visa has an annual cap. Therefore, applicants whose petitions are approved have to wait a long time until their priority dates become current. In some cases, people receive their visa after one year, but in some cases, the applicant has waited ten years to obtain permission.

F3 visa USA waiting time

The US f3 visa processing time or waiting time for a US F3 visa is different for each applicant. As there is a quota on the Fe visa each year, the processing time could take from one to ten years.

Also, there are so many applicants for  F3 visas the USA, and it makes it hard for the officials to process all the applications and leads to a longer processing time.

Let’s sum up…

In this article, we reviewed the F3 visa USA application process, requirements, processing time, costs, and other details. At the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as how to immigrate to other countries.

If you have experience in the visa application process, share it with other readers and us. Conveying your experiences is invaluable because it helps others make better decisions. We are also very happy for you to share your constructive comments and suggestions with us.


Children of US citizens who are in foreign countries may apply for it.

It can take from one to ten years as there is an annual cap.

You can expect the current Fiscal Year in September 2022.

The cost is up to the stages you go through, as the article explains.

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  1. Andy says:

    My child is married, is she eligible for an F3 visa?

  2. Raji says:

    Father is a citizen and mother has resident card. Son is a step son, married and above 21. Can a F3 be applied in this case?

    • Visa Library says:

      Dear Raji
      The eligibility for an F3 visa is that the applicant must be at most 21 and single. It doesn’t seem that the F3 visa applies to him. However, ask the US officials as there might be some exceptions by nationality.

  3. Megha T says:

    Hello, I have an Aug 2011 priority date for my F3 immigration visa. Adj of status dates are Aug 2009 .. any idea how long more will be the wait? Thank you

    • B Rajabali says:

      Dear Megha T
      You would better contact the USCIC or the US embassy in your home country and aks them about the processing.

  4. Lola says:

    I have a priority date of 2nd of Aug,2013.My case file was approved by USCIS in April,2020(2yrs plus gone now).Any idea of how long I will wait because,this is 9years and 4months.My ceac account is yet to be opened,can’t pay, submit any documents etc on it.My case file is an F3 for married children.Am married from Nigeria and my mother is a US citizen

    • M-behroozi says:

      Unfortunately, the processing time is up to the embassy completely. With the new year holiday closing on us, I think your application will take longer. You can find the contact information of the US embassy and contact them.

  5. Naveen says:

    Hi! Do you any information on which priority date applicants are being scheduled for F3 immigrant visa at Mumbai US Consulate, India

  6. Elias says:

    Hello, my father was a US resident and just got US citizenship this year. Would an F3 visa apply with naturalized US Citizen parents?

  7. Elias says:

    Thank you B Rajabali,

    I do, and all the conditions are met

  8. AP says:

    Can I transfer a F3 case from the California service center to another service center with shorter wait times? We applied in 2016. Thank you!

    • Oliver says:

      You should find a visa that you are eligible for it then determine you can transfer to it.