The K3 visa is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens to enter the United States to wait for their pending green card petition to be approved. The K3 foreign spouse must be currently living overseas and have a pending marriage-based green card petition (Form I-130) with the USCIS. If the couple got married outside of the United States, the K3 visa must be received from the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country where the marriage happened.
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A qualified person for a K3 visa must (1) be the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is living overseas and (2) have a pending marriage-based green card petition with the USCIS.
The initial K3 visa grants a period of stay up to two years and it can be extended for an additional 2 years in each renewal. The initial K4 visa grants a period of stay up to two years or until the day before the person turns 21 years old depending on whichever is shorter. The K4 visa can be extended for an additional 2 years in each renewal if the situation is permitted. In most cases, K visa holders cannot change into other types of temporary nonimmigrant visas such as an F-1 student visa or an H-1B work visa.
The K3 visa has three main requirements that need to be satisfied: evidence must be provided to the USCIS to show that the (1) the person must be the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen, (2) the foreign spouse has a pending marriage-based green card petition (Form I-130) with the USCIS, and (3) the foreign spouse will not become a public charge (typically the U.S. citizen must have income that is at least 100 % of the federal poverty guideline).
Evidence Required for the K3 Visa
A general (not exhaustive) checklist for what is required for a K3 visa is listed below. The evidence provided to the USCIS for the K3 foreign spouse visa petition must show:
The person sponsoring the K3 visa petition is a U.S. citizen
- Two passport photos of the U.S. citizen
- U.S. passport (valid)
- Birth certificate
- Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship (issued by the USCIS)
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy
- U.S. consular officer’s verification of U.S. citizenship with valid U.S. passport
- Documents that show legal name change (e.g., court judgment of name change, marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption decree)
The foreign spouse is admissible to enter the United States
- Passport (expiration date must be more than 6 months than the time intended to stay in the United States)
- Two passport photos
- Police certificates (it should include the country of residence and all countries that the person has lived for at least 6 months since 16 years old)
- Sealed medical examination form
There is a marriage between the foreign spouse and the U.S. citizen and a marriage-based green card petition is pending
- Receipt notice (Form I-797) of the filed marriage-based green card petition
- Birth certificates (it should show names of both parents)
- Marriage certificate between foreign spouse and U.S. citizen
- Divorce by legal termination of all prior marriages for the foreign fiancé(e) and U.S. citizen (e.g., divorce decree, annulment order, death certificate of prior spouse)
The relationship is bona fide (real)
- Documents that show joint ownership of property
- Lease that shows joint tenancy of a common residency (living at the same address)
- Documents that show combined financial resources
- Birth certificates of children born by the U.S. citizen and foreign spouse
- Affidavits from a third party who has personal knowledge (first-hand) that the marriage is real. (it should include the affiant’s full name, address, place of birth, date of making the affidavit, and the detailed explanation of how and what the person knows about the marriage)
- Any other documents that can show the marriage is ongoing
The foreign person will not become a public charge in the United States
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-134)
- Documents that show the U.S. citizen’s income is at least 100 % of the federal poverty guideline (e.g., most recent tax returns, bank statements)
The total time a K3 visa takes is consisted of the processing time for (1) the K3 visa petition (Form I-129F) with the USCIS and the (2) visa application interview (DS-160) at a U.S. consulate or embassy overseas.
A rough estimate for the Form I-129F petition is around 6 to 9 months and the completion of the interview stage should require around 2 to 3 months. Factors that influence the K3 visa petition processing time usually include but are not limited to if there was any Request for Evidence (“RFE”) issued, and the caseload of the USCIS service center, National Visa Center (NVC), and the U.S. consulate or embassy.
K3 Visa General Process
There are three main steps for the spouse of a U.S. citizen to obtain a K3 visa to enter the United States:
Pre-requisite: Pending Marriage-Based Green Card Petition
The U.S. citizen must have already submitted a marriage-based green card petition (Form I-130) with the USCIS.
Step One: Filing the K3 Visa Petition
The U.S. citizen files a K3 visa petition (Form I-129F) to the USCIS.
Step Two: Interview at U.S. Consulate or Embassy
After the USCIS approves the K3 foreign spouse visa petition, the National Visa Center (NVC) will transfer the case to the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country where the marriage happened or the foreign spouse’s country of nationality if the couple was married in the United States. The foreign spouse will be notified of the scheduled visa interview and the documents required. If the couple was married in a country that does not have a U.S. consulate or embassy, the case will be sent to a U.S. consulate or embassy that is designated to process visas for that specific country.
The K3 foreign spouse will then attend an in-person interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy and have their fingerprints taken. The foreign spouse will be asked about the relationship at their interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy.
Step Three: Changing into K3 Visa Status
When the K3 foreign spouse travels to the United States, the CBP officer at the port of entry must admit the foreign spouse to enter the United States for their K3 visa status to become activated.
*When the K3 Visa and Marriage-Based Green Card Petition is Both Approved
If the marriage-based green card petition (Form I-130) and the foreign spouse visa petition (Form I-129F) is both approved, the K visa can no longer be used anymore and each K4 visa child must have their own approved family-based green card petition (Form I-130) to enter the United States.
After entering the United States, the K3 foreign spouse and their K4 dependent children can immediately file for work authorization (EAD, Form I-765) and they are allowed to travel internationally with their valid K visa status. However, if their K3 visa or K4 visa status has expired, they must have a pending adjustment of status petition (Form I-485) and an approved advanced parole document (Form I-131) to return to the United States after international travel.
Dependent children (unmarried and under 21 years old) of the K3 foreign spouse can apply for a K4 visa to enter the United States. Each K4 visa child must be sponsored by the U.S. citizen with their own family-based green card petition (Form I-130) to adjust their status to a green card holder. If the K4 child was over 18 years old when the marriage happened, then the K4 child cannot adjust their status based on being a stepchild of the U.S. citizen.
The K3 visa is a temporary visa for the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States to wait for their pending marriage-based green card petition to be approved. Dependent children of the K3 foreign spouse can also join with a K4 visa, however, K4 children must have their own approved green card petitions to file for an adjustment of status to become a green card holder.
If you have a marriage-based visa (spouse of U.S. citizens) immigration question, please fill out our contact us form or send us an email with some basic information about your background and your immigration needs. We will do our best to respond within 48 hours.
How we can help?
Kylie Huang Law’s immigration attorney will help identify what type of marriage-based visa the client is qualified for and whether there are other visa options available to the client. We will work closely with our clients to prepare their marriage-based visa petition and we will also strategize on how the marriage-based visa petition should be presented in the filings and in the interview to achieve the best chances of approval. It is advised and common practice to retain an immigration attorney for certain unusual marriage-based visa petitions due to the complexities in the immigration process and visa requirements.