A K-3 visa applicant must have a valid marriage to a U.S. citizen, be the beneficiary of a pending I-130 immediate relative petition, and seek entry to the U.S. to await approval of that petition. The U.S. citizen (USC) spouse begins the process by filing USCIS' Form I-130. The USC spouse then files an I-129F petition together with the USCIS-issued I-130 Receipt Notice. Approval of the I-129F petition is then forwarded to the National Visa Center and the appropriate overseas American consulate. An I-129F approval is valid for four (4) months though a consular officer may revalidate the petition for an additional four months, should it expire. If marriage took place in the U.S., the designated consulate for issuance of the K-3 visa will be the one with jurisdiction over the non-citizen spouse's current residence. If marriage was overseas, then consulate must be in the country where the couple married, if the U.S. has a consular office that issues immigrant visas in that country.
Children of K-3 visaholders
Children of K-3 visa eligible applicants may accompany on the K-4 visa if named in the parent's petition. To be eligible, K-4 children must be under 21 years of age and unmarried. K-4 status is dependent upon the parent's K-3 status and ends upon the termination or revocation of the parent's underlying K-3 visa or I-130 petition.
Benefits of the K-3 visa
K-3 visa benefits include a generally shorter waiting period compared to marriage-based immigrant visa petitions; petitions usually take four to six months for USCIS, and another two to three months, for the consulate to process. Additionally, K-3 and K-4 visa holders may be granted employment authorization while their I-130 petitions or adjustment of status applications are pending. Other benefits include being able to study and the ability to travel outside the U.S. on the K visa, even if simultaneously applying for adjustment of status. The K-3 visa is valid for two (2) years, with multiple entries allowed, and may be extended, if necessary, for two-year intervals.
Additional Information about K-3/K-4 visas.
The K visas may not change status to another nonimmigrant visa once in the U.S., nor may another nonimmigrant visa category change to K status. While an I-129F petition may be approved by USCIS, one may not be issued a K visa, or may not enter the U.S., if temporarily barred for previous violation of immigration law. K-3 status is automatically terminated 30 days after the denial or revocation of the visa holder's underlying I-130 petition or adjustment of status application, or the divorce or death of the U.S. citizen petitioner spouse.
Additional resources provided by the author
Disclaimer: This article was authored by Amy L. Becerra, Esq. The above information is general in nature and not meant as a substitute for case-specific advice. Contact an experienced immigration attorney for legal advice and representation in your particular situation. firstname.lastname@example.org, (757) 345-9019.