Everything You Need to Know About the K-3 Visa
Immigration and K-3 Visas
What Is a K-3 Visa?
K-3 visas are temporary (non-immigrant visas) for the spouse of a US citizen who is a foreign national. The visa allows US citizens to shorten the duration of physical separation from their foreign citizen spouse.
When a foreign spouse receives a K-3 visa, they are permitted to enter the United States to wait for the approval of the immigrant visa petition (Form I-130) or to change their immigration status. Once in the United States, most K-3 visa holders successfully change their status to permanent residents.
The K-3 visa is similar to the K-1 visa for fiancés. Therefore, both use the same petition.
Who Is Eligible for a K-3 Visa?
If you wish to apply for a K-3 visa, ensure you are eligible. The requirements for a successful K-3 visa application are as follows:
Marriage to a US Citizen
A K-3 Visa applicant must be legally married to a US citizen. However, spouses of lawful permanent residents (LPR) do not qualify for this visa.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines a spouse as one who is legally married. Same-sex spouses of US citizens and lawful permanent residents are eligible for the same immigration benefits as spouses of the opposite sex, along with their minor children.
Cohabitation and Common Law Marriage
Living together does not confer spousal status on a couple for immigration purposes. However, depending on the country’s regulations where the common-law marriage occurs, common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration purposes.
In polygynous families, only the first spouse is eligible for immigration as a spouse.
Applicant Resides Outside the United States
The K-3 visa applicant must reside outside the US at the time of the application.
The US citizen spouse must meet specific income requirements to qualify as a financial sponsor. A sponsor’s most recently adjusted gross income must be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If they can’t meet this condition, a co-sponsor with a supporting affidavit will be needed. The co-sponsor must accept financial responsibility for the foreign spouse.
How to Apply for a K-3 Visa
Upon meeting the requirements, you must submit Form I-129. After you have submitted your application, you will be required to show proof of identity, such as a passport. The USCIS will then send your spouse a receipt within 30 days.
The application procedure typically takes between six and nine months. Your I-129F petition is valid for four months following the approval date. However, a consulate office can extend its validity if it expires before you complete the K-3 visa application process.
If the applicant has young children, they may qualify for K-4 dependent visas. K-3 and K-4 visa holders may remain in the United States. At the same time, the USCIS reviews their immigrant visa petitions. Children coming to the United States on a K-4 visa should be unmarried and younger than 21 years old.
K-3 Visa Forms
When submitting the K-3 application, couples may need to file several forms, including the following:
- Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative
- Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
- Form DS-160 (required for each K-visa applicant)
You can download these forms from the USCIS website.
Summary of the K-3 Visa Application Process
The K-3 visa application process is summarized as follows:
Applying for the K-3 Visa
The US citizen would first file Form I-130 and receive a receipt notice before filing Form I-129F on behalf of the overseas spouse. After the USCIS approves the petition, the National Visa Center(NVC) will process it.
National Visa Center(NVC) Processing
The NVC will process the I-129F petition if it arrives before the I-130 petition. If the I-130 is granted first, the NVC will close the K-3 application. This is because once the immigrant visa is available, the K-3 visa becomes unnecessary.
The K-3 Visa Interview
The NVC will send your approved Form I-129F to the US embassy or consulate in the country where the couple got married. The embassy or consulate will send the couple their K-3 visa interview instructions. They’ll also require a medical checkup.
Possible K-3 Visa Interview Questions
No two visa interviews are alike; thus, there’s no standard list of questions. Every couple’s history is different, with a collection of variables. In general, you will be asked questions about your spouse to determine the validity of your marriage and to ensure it wasn’t for immigration purposes. Generally, questions will be asked about your marriage, spouse’s occupation, religion, when and where you got married, your future plans as a couple, etc.
K-3 Visa Checklist
Here is a checklist of items the foreign spouse (and any K-4 visa eligible children) should have:
- Online Non-immigrant Visa Application (DS-160) (1) and the confirmation sheet to bring to the K-3 interview
- A Passport with a validity of at least six months beyond the period of anticipated stay
- Original and photocopies of the following civil documents: birth certificate, US marriage certificate, previous spouse’s divorce or death certificate (if any), and police certificates from the current country and all countries where the applicant has lived for six months or more since age 16
- Medical checkups and vaccinations receipt notice
- Evidence of financial support (they may request Form I-134-Affidavit of Support)
- Two passport-sized photos.
Entering the US
After the embassy or consulate approves the K-3 visa, the foreign spouse can enter the US. An immigration officer at the US embassy or consulate will seal your K-3 visa and other paperwork. Customs and Border Protection opens the parcel upon entry.
Even if your I-130 petition is pending, you can start your green card application in the US. You can also get employment permission by filing Form I-765.
The K-3 visa is valid for three years. However, K-3 visa holders are not allowed multiple entries into the US.
Cost of Obtaining a K-3 Visa
K-3 visa applicants have to pay for certain services and associated costs. Some of the items that require payment include:
- Immigration forms
- Health examination/medical checks (required for each K-visa applicant)
- Translation and photocopying fees
Other miscellaneous costs an applicant might encounter include fees for obtaining the required visa application documents (such as passport, police certificates, and birth certificates) and travel expenditures to the US Embassy or Consulate for an interview.
K-3 Visa Processing Time
The K-3 visa process takes time. Forms I-130 and I-129F approval delays add to the backlog. Form DS-160 and interview scheduling take another couple of months. The process takes 6-9 months on average.
Obtaining a K-3 visa might be difficult due to the lengthy application process. For this reason, consider hiring a professional immigration lawyer in Los Angeles to help simplify the process.
A family immigration lawyer can guide you through acquiring a K-3 visa for your foreign spouse. They can help develop and file all required documents with supporting evidence to reduce the chances of denial.
Contact the Law Office of Diana L. Levy, L.P. today and let us help you reunite with your family.