The K-3 visa is for the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen. It was designed to shorten the physical separation between the foreign national and his or her U.S. citizen spouse. Specifically, it allows the foreign national to enter the United States to await approval of the immigrant visa petition. K-3 visa recipients subsequently apply to adjust status to a permanent resident (green card holder) so that he or she may live permanently in the U.S. with the spouse.
K-3 Visa Eligibility
Generally, the U.S. citizen and foreign national spouse must:
- Be legally married; and
- Meet the requirements set in the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005; and
- Have a pending Form I-130.
K-3 Application Process
Before starting the K-3 visa process, the U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Form I-130 establishes a qualified relationship for the purposes of a family-based permanent residence application. Once USCIS accepts the I-130 petition for processing and replies with a receipt letter (Form I-797C, Notice of Action), the U.S. citizen may then file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, to start the K-3 visa process. Upon approval for Form I-129F, the case is moved to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign national’s country of residence.
At this point the foreign national may apply for the K-3 visa through the embassy or consulate. The K-3 applicant should expect to go to an immigration medical exam and attend an interview. Upon approval of the K-3 visa, the foreign national may enter the United States. Once in the U.S., he or she may file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status.
Children of a K-3 Visa Holder
Eligible children of K-3 beneficiaries receive K-4 visas. Eligible children include unmarried sons and daughters under the age of 21. Eligible children may apply for K-4 visas based on the parent’s Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. But the children must be on the petition. Separate visa applications must be submitted for each K-4 visa applicant, and each applicant must pay the K visa application fee.
Upon entry to the United States, his or her children must file separate adjustment of status applications. They cannot be included on parent’s Form I-485. Additionally, to qualify for adjustment of status, the child must have been under the age of 18 when the parent and U.S. citizen marry.
Problem with the K-3 Process
For most people, the K-3 process is not worthwhile. That’s because USCIS will generally approve the Form I-130 as quickly as the K-3 status. For that reason, many people who start the K-3 process are never issued the K-3 visa. Instead, they interview soon after the I-130 approval and enter the United States with an immigrant visa.
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