Non Immigrant Visa (K-3)

The temporary K-3 visa was designed to make it easier for spouses to reunite in the U.S. while they await approval of a foreign spouse’s immigrant visa petition. This visa enables a foreign spouse to enter the U.S. and remain while the petition is pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Children of K-3 visa applicants may be eligible to receive a K-4 visa.

Once the spouse receives a K-3 visa, they may be able to apply for Adjustment of Status to become a lawful permanent resident. While this sounds like a promising opportunity, in reality the K-3 visa may only add expense and delays to the process of obtaining a green card. An experienced immigration attorney in the office of Luis F. Hess, PLLC could review your situation to determine whether a K-3 visa would be beneficial in your case.

Who is Eligible for a K-3 Visa?

K-3 visas are only available to applicants who meet specific qualifications. They must:

  • Be married to a U.S. citizen (spouses of green card holders are not eligible)
  • Currently live outside the U.S.
  • Have an immigrant petition (Form I-130)on file with USCIS but not yet granted
  • Have a spouse that meets income requirements or a joint sponsor

If the spouse seeking a K-3 visa wants to obtain a K-4 visa for children, those children must be under the age of 21 and not married.

How to Apply for a K-3 Visa

Applicants who meet the qualifications for a K-3 visa must have their citizen spouse file a Form I-129F with USCIS. (The form is titled “Petition for Alien Fiance” even though it is used for a spouse in this situation.) If there are children accompanying the foreign spouse, they are listed on the same form.

In theory, USCIS approves the petition and the application moves to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the spouse’s country of residence. In reality, however, it usually takes USCIS as long to approve the petition for the K-3 temporary visa as it does to approve the immigration petition that the applicant is waiting for.

Alternatives to the K-3 Visa

Many immigration attorneys recommend that spouses of U.S. citizens pursue options other than the K-3 visa in most cases because it takes USCIS so long to process the petitions. Once an immigration petition is approved by USCIS, the applicant can apply for a visa through the consular process and then enter the country with a permanent visa making them eligible for a green card. If they receive a K-3 visa, they still need to apply for adjustment of status to obtain a permanent visa once they arrive.

If USCIS approves the immigrant petition (I-130) before the temporary visa petition (I-129F), then the agency closes the temporary visa case, and the application fee is wasted. The agency will contact the couple with instructions for a IR-1 or CR-1 permanent visa for spouses. The CR-1 is a conditional visa for spouses married less than two years. After the recipient has been in the U.S. for two years, they may apply to have the conditions removed and receive a standard permanent resident card good for ten years.

Talk to an Experienced Immigration Lawyer to Find Out Whether a K-3 Visa is Recommended in Your Situation

For some couples, the K-3 and K-4 visas keep a family intact at a critical and challenging time. For many other couples, however, the wait for a K-3 visa turns out to be so lengthy that the process is useless. A dedicated immigration attorney in the law office of Luis F. Hess, PLLC could help you determine the best options for your situation and guide you through the process to reach your goals. Contact our office now to learn more.