A K-3 visa allows a spouse who is living in a foreign country to live in the United States with their significant other while they are awaiting approval of their green card.
This visa was intended to shorten the time a foreign national spends apart from his or her U.S. citizen spouse.
As immigration lawyers, we know the strain being apart can put on spouses. This is worse if they are separated by international borders or even oceans.
The K-3 Visa is known as a nonimmigrant visa. Your foreign spouse may apply for a K-3 visa if he or she:
- Is married to you.
- You have filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to apply for a green card for your spouse.
- Your spouse wants to live in the United States while awaiting the green card decision.
Two petitions must be filed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to obtain a K-3 Visa. As well as Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, you must file Form I-129F. You can file I-129F at the same time as I-130 or soon afterward.
Required documentation includes a valid passport for travel, a birth certificate, your marriage certificate, divorce or death certificates of previous spouses, and police certificates from your spouse’s country of residence. USCIS also asks for medical examinations, evidence of financial support, two photographs, and evidence of the relationship.
If USCIS approves Form I-130 before or at the same time as I-129F, your spouse will not need a K-3 visa. His or her children will not require a K-4 Visa. A foreign spouse will then apply for immigrant visas and a green card.
However, if USCIS approves I-129F first, the petition will be sent to the Department of State. A spouse must then submit the nonimmigrant visa application to the Department of State. The spouse must provide evidence that he or she will not become a financial burden to the state, known as a public charge.
Typically, this means the U.S. citizen spouse must show adjusted gross income on their most recent tax return which is at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines to qualify as a financial sponsor.
Long processing times, filing fees, and the existence of alternatives mean it may not be worthwhile to apply for a K-3 visa. It takes about 4.5 months for the Potomac Service Center to process these visas but as long as 13.5 months in California. The filing fee is $265.
If your K-3 application will take as long as your marriage green card application process, it makes little sense to apply for both.
An alternative some applicants use is the CR-1 spouse visa which includes a green card, meaning you won’t have to file for adjustment of status.
You should always consult an immigration lawyer about this complicated process to avoid wasting time and money. Call Gardner & Mendoza at (757) 464-9224.
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