K-3 Visas

The K-3 visa is often known as the “marriage visa” or the “spouse visa.” It is a type of visa that is issued to a non-U.S. citizen who is legally married to a U.S. citizen. More specifically, it is a non-immigrant multi-entry visa that is typically valid for a period of two years. During that two-year time frame, the non-U.S. spouse can file for an Adjustment of Status to become a Legal Permanent Resident.  Certain requirements must be met for those seeking K-3 visas. To be eligible for a K-3 non-immigrant visa, a person must be married to a U.S. citizen and have a pending Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by the U.S. citizen spouse on the non-U.S. spouse’s behalf.

It is important to note that this category of visas was created to grant a foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen the ability to enter the U.S. as a non-immigrant before adjusting his or her status later. It also allows foreign spouses to obtain employment authorization while they are waiting.

Alternatively, the foreign spouse can wait for his or her I-130 to be approved, in which case he or she returns to his or her nation to be issued an immigrant visa. The process is as follows. The U.S. citizen spouse fills out a visa petition known as Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and submits it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. citizen will then receive a Form I-797, Notice of Action, signifying that USCIS has received the Form I-130.

Next, the U. S. citizen files the Form I-129F on behalf of the foreign spouse while including a copy of the Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that USCIS has received the Form I-130 on behalf of the foreign spouse. If this is approved, USCIS will forward the I-129F to the next stage, which is consular processing. In consular processing, an interview takes place regarding the immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over the beneficiary.

If the non-U.S. spouse has children who are immigrating as well, the U.S. spouse is required to submit separate visa petitions on each child’s behalf. In order to do this, the U.S. spouse must legally qualify as the child’s parent or stepparent. To qualify as a stepparent, the marriage of the U.S. citizen to the foreign spouse must have taken place before the child turned 18 years of age. The child will need his or her own visa petition when the time comes to adjust status and apply for a green card.

While the K-3 processing time varies with each individual’s circumstances, the process can take between 3-6 months at the USCIS stage and another 2-3 months at the consular processing stage. The amount of paperwork needed to file for a K-3 visa is significantly higher than the documentation needed for a K-1 fiancé visa.

The K-3 visa can only be obtained by a foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen. The foreign spouse of a permanent resident of the U.S. cannot receive a K-3 visa.  Obtaining a K-3 visa can be a complex and cumbersome process, which is why it may be wise to seek the guidance of an immigration lawyer who can assess your specific situation.