K3 visas are for the foreign-born spouses of US citizens. K3 visas are intended to shorten the physical separation between the foreign-citizen and US citizen spouses by having the option to obtain K3 visas overseas and enter the United States to await approval of the immigrant visa petition. K-3 visa recipients subsequently apply to adjust status to a permanent resident with the USCIS upon approval of the petition.
Because a US citizen spouse applying for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa must have an I-130 immigrant visa petition filed on his or her behalf by his or her U.S. citizen spouse and pending approval, a K-3 applicant must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. It should be noted that under US immigration law, a foreign citizen who marries a US citizen outside the US must apply for a K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place.
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What is a Spouse?
A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses.
- Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration.
- Common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration purposes depending on the laws of the country where the common-law marriage occurs.
- In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration.
Eligibility for K3 Visas
- Married to a US Citizen
- Pending Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
- Approved I-129F Petition (No filing fee)
Eligibility for K4 Visas
- Under 21
- Child of a Qualified K3 Visa Applicant
- Must be listed on form I-129F
Benefits of K3 and K4 Visas
There are various benefits that come with a K3 visa or K4 visa. Those who hold these visas may apply to adjust status to a permanent resident at any time. In addition, they may obtain employment authorization.
K3 and K4 Visa Limitations
There are, however, some limitations that come with a K3 Visa or K4 Visa. For example, K3 or K4 visa holders can not change status to another temporary visa category. In addition, there are several instances in which a K3 visa can automatically expire after 30 days such as: denial of either form I-130 or form I-485, and a divorce or annulment with the US citizen spouse. K4 status expires when the K3 status expires. K3 and K4 visa holders are admitted to the US for a maximum of 2 years. They may, however, apply to extend their status.
Applying for a Green Card
K-3 and K-4 visa holders must have an approved Form I-130 to be eligible for a Green Card to become a lawful permanent resident. You may apply for a Green Card at any time (even while the Form I-130 is pending) by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If you have a K-3 visa, you may only apply for a Green Card based on your marriage to the U.S. citizen spouse who petitioned for your K-3 status.
If you have a K-4 visa, you may only apply for a Green Card based on the step-parent/step-child relationship created when your K-3 parent married the U.S. citizen who petitioned for your K-4 visa. You may also benefit from certain age-out protections under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). For more information on CSPA, see our Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) webpage.
K3 Visas: Required Documentation
- Birth Certificate
- Current Marriage Certificate
- Past Divorce/Death of Spouse Certificates
- Police Certificates
- Medical Examination
- Valid Passport for Travel Evidence of Financial Support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support) may be required
- Form Form DS-160 (Online Non-immigrant Visa Application)
- Two 2×2 Photographs
- Evidence of Relationship with U.S. Citizen Spouse
K3 Visas – Government Resources
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.