Eliminating F3/married children and F4/sibling category in immigration reform?

My regular readers may be wondering why I haven’t been writing much about the discussions on comprehensive immigration reform.  After all, given the noise it is creating, it would be natural to write about it.  However, so far, any discussion about immigration reform is just speculation. So, I am waiting for an actual bill to be presented. Yet, I feel compelled to write about the following issue.

Last year, I wrote an article about what we may see in 2012.  It didn’t happen in 2012 but seems there is promise in 2013.  I am convinced we will see most of the issues I discuss in my article addressed in comprehensive immigration reform. It is no secret that I am an advocate for the Startup and Stem Visas and cannot wait to see those become reality.

However, I did not anticipate that there may be a chance of sacrifice to existing preference categories, let alone ones that are so important to naturalized US citizens.  F3, married children and F4 siblings of US citizens are two of the important family-based preference categories.  These categories keep families together.  As of the April 2013 Visa Bulletin, F3 preference category applicants currently have to wait an average of  11 years (and about 20 years if you are from Mexico or Philippines).  F4 category applicants have to wait an average of 12 years unless they are from Mexico, in which case they must wait 16 years, or 23 years 7 months if they are from the Philippines.  That means someone who is already waiting in this so called ‘line’ has already had fees paid by a US citizen.  Those fees have been collected by the US government.

There is an annual limit to all visas issued in every category in the United States.  The F3 category has an annual limit of 23,400 and F4 has an annual limit of 65,000 visas. Employment-based visas have a limit of 140,000 per year which get sub-categorized too, making each type of visa even more limited (that’s why we have the EB2 preference stagnant, for example).  The potential idea seems to be to take the F3 and F4 visa categories and add them to the employment-based categories.

These visa limits were set many decades ago when the world, and the United States, were very different.  The immigration system is old, hence the pressure from all directions to reform it. If indeed reform is what is required, then why take visa limits from one category to satisfy another? Why not just increase the total number of visas available? Isn’t that what reform is about?

As I mention above, people have already paid hard earned money to submit petitions and are waiting in earnest for their priority dates to become current.  Families are waiting intently to be united again. It would be nothing short of injustice to take away these categories.

But if sacrifice is ultimately necessary, then why not look at a category that does not adversely affect US citizens? The Diversity Lottery category has a 55,000 visa limit allocated each year. The visa issuance is- as it is named- a lottery.  The lottery winners apply knowing full well they may not ‘win’. They have nothing much invested in the petition, other than some hope (perhaps fees too, but they take that risk).  While the DV lottery serves an important group of people, in my opinion, F3 and F4 categories serve an even more important group of people- US citizens and their families.  So, if sacrifice of an existing category is something that one is compelled to consider, especially in the event that an overall visa increase will not be considered, then take away the DV lottery and keep families united.

*Copyright 2013 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

5 Responses to “Eliminating F3/married children and F4/sibling category in immigration reform?”


  1. 1 immigratingtousa March 21, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Times have changed and so has US but family unity will remain same. As you quite rightly observe ‘immigration reform’ should be brought out not only to help US economy but most importantly for the separated families to unite.

  2. 2 tahminawatson March 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Reblogged this on Watson Immigration Law Blog and commented:

    We are very honored and grateful that America’s Leading Immigration Publisher, http://www.ILW.com reprinted this article. Thank you ILW!

  3. 3 H. Bandukwala June 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    What is the latest on the F3 and F4 categories in the immigration reform bill.

    I completely agree that these categories should not be eliminated. I have a real example of this hurting the family unification. I has sponsored my sister over the decade ago, now she got her GC Visa but two of children could not make it because of age out / marriage. But, if this bill becomes law then her sponsoring the rest of the children will not be possible in future.

    What can be done to convince the lawmaker not to eliminate the F3 and F4 categories.

    • 4 tahminawatson June 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Thank you for your example and writing your example. At this point, the Senate bill has passed already. I haven’t read the House bill to see what it says. You need to call your Senators and House Representatives to get your voice heard. It is really important to do so immediately. Please tell all your friends and families to do the same. Thank you again for your concern and for wanting to help.


  1. 1 Top Articles on www.ILW.com! | Watson Immigration Law Blog Trackback on April 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm

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