K-3 and K-4 nonimmigrant visas are issued to spouses and minor unmarried children of US citizens, respectively.

The goal of these visas is to keep a citizen and their family together while they wait for their visa applications to be processed. Once in the United States, the spouse and children can apply for legal permanent residency. Both visas must be applied for through USCIS.

What Exactly are K-3 and K-4 Visas?

Aliens who are the spouses of US citizens are granted the K-3 nonimmigrant visa. By contrast, the K-4 visa is used to allow your children to lawfully travel and remain in the United States.

These visas are required for aliens who get married to Americans in another nation and wish to visit the United States. They must next apply for an immigrant visa, which will allow them to apply for a Green Card and eventually become citizens of the United States.

In the past, couples had to remain separated while the legal status of the foreign spouse was addressed. The US Congress has since rectified this problem by developing this type of temporary non-immigrant visa to draw family members closer together.

If a foreign citizen marries an American citizen while outside of the US, the K-3 visa must be submitted for the country where the marriage occurred. Qualifying minors of the K-3 visa applicant will be granted the K-4 visa.

What Does It Mean To Be A Spouse In The United States?

married couple watching something on laptopUnder US law, a spouse is a lawfully wedded husband or wife. Take note of the following:

For immigration purposes, living together at the same residence does not constitute a marriage.

US citizens’ same-sex spouses and minor children are qualified for the same advantages as opposite-sex spouses.

In matters of polygamy, only the first spouse that a person married will qualify as a spouse in the eyes of the law.

How Do I Get A K-3 Visa?

The K-3 visa application process can be broken down into three steps:

1. Fill out and submit petitions

The US spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS. When USCIS confirms your petition, it will provide you a receipt via Form I-797, Notice of Action. Next, you must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) for your alien spouse and stepchildren.

Finally, the petitions will be sent to the National Visa Center once they are authorized by USCIS (NVC). The US spouse can include the alien spouse’s children on the same I-129F application to get the K-4 visa.

Before your immigrant spouse’s children may apply for a Green Card, they must file a separate I-130. The minor must be under the age of 18 at the time the applicant and spouse married in order for stepparent-stepchild eligibility to be approved.

2. Submit a Visa Application

If NVC receives the approved I-129F petition before the I-130 petition, this will handle the I-129F petition and submit it to the to the US embassy or consulate in the country where the marriage occurred; if the marriage occurred in the United States, NVC will submit the application to the US embassy or consulate that issues visas in the foreign spouse’s country of origin.

girl with passport and visa applicationIf the marriage occurred in a country where there is not a US embassy or consulate, NVC will then forward the application to the US embassy or consulate who handles visa processing for that country.

Please keep in mind that if NVC receives the approved I-130 and I-129F documents the K-1 visa application will be administratively closed and the foreign spouse will not be able to apply. NVC will contact the US and the foreign spouse with information on how to apply for an IR-1 or CR-1 visa.

3. Get a Green Card

The immigrant spouse must enter the United States on a valid K-3 visa and apply for a Green Card. They can apply for work permission upon arrival, but they will not be permitted to work until their application for a work permit in the United States is approved.

Requirements for a K3 Visa

The following documentation must be submitted by the US spouse:

  • Proof of Citizenship: A US passport or a birth or naturalization certificate are acceptable forms of proof of citizenship.
  • A copy of the alien spouse’s passport.
  • Certification of Legal Marriage: A qualified interpreter must translate the document into English.
  • If you are divorced or widowed, you must provide confirmation of your marital status: I-94 Permit, Alien Spouse Arrival/Departure Record (if you’ve ever received this document); Divorce certificate, death certificate, or annulment paperwork.
  • Photographs of the US citizen and immigrant spouse in the form of a passport.
  • Form I-797 or I-130 service receipt.

Before presenting any documents, it is a good idea to make several back-up copies of each of them.

Documentation Required for the Embassy Interview

The foreign spouse must bring the following documents to the consultation with the US embassy or consulate:

  • For you and any children seeking the K-4 visa, fill out Form DS-160. You must print and present the confirmation sheet to your interview.
  • Certificate of legal marriage.
  • A valid passport with a validity period of at least 6 months. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other civil documents are all examples of valid forms of ID.
  • Any other spouse’s divorce or death certificate (if relevant).
  • Form I-134, Affidavit of Support; Recent tax returns of the sponsoring spouse.
  • Evidence of the marital relationship (photographs of the wedding and other time spent together, plane tickets for vacations taken to visit one another, etc).
  • A medical examination of the foreign spouse that has been signed by a doctor authorized by the Department of State (DoS).
  • Form I-134, Affidavit of Support.
  • Recent tax returns of the sponsoring spouse. You can do this by getting copies of the documentation that the US spouse has submitted to USCIS.
  • Two passport-style photographs of the applicant are required. For the photographs, you must follow the directions and specifications given by the government.
  • Payment of the $265 filing fee. In most cases, it is paid on the same day as the interview. However, it is important to read the directions with care because they may differ depending on the country.

Additional information, such as wedding photos or other proof that your marriage to your US spouse is genuine, may be requested by the consular officer. All foreign-language documentation must be translated into English. To the interview, applicants must present original documents as well as legible photocopies and translations. The paperwork in question will be returned to you.

The K-3 and K-4 Visas Have Many Advantages

The following are some of the advantages that the K-3 and K-4 visas provide:

  • Being authorized to enter the United States while waiting for the USCIS to respond to the US spouse’s application.
  • Reduces the amount of time it takes for alien spouses as well as their children to enter the US.
  • The bearer of this visa can petition for adjustment of status to seek permanent residence after being admitted.
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, is available to K-3 and K-4 visa holders.

Following the Receipt of a K-3 visa

The consular officer will provide the alien spouse with their passport, which will contain the K-3 visa, as well as a sealed package holding the civil documents they supplied.

It is critical that the sealed package not be opened. When you enter the United States, only a DHS immigration officer will be able to open this package. You have the option of entering before or after any of your K-4 visa-holding children.

The Port Of Entry and Entry Into The United States

A visa allows foreign nationals to travel to a US port of entry and ask for entrance permission, but it does not ensure access. CBP will decide whether or not the immigrant spouse is allowed to enter the United States.

What is the Duration Of A K-3 Or K-4 Visa?

K-3 and K-4 visas are good for two years, but if the I-130 form or application to alter status is pending, a visa extension for another two years can be requested. K-3 and K-4 visa holders will not be able to alter their standing to another nonimmigrant classification.

In the following situations, the authorized stay in the United States for these visas effectively expires after 30 days:

  • The visa petition was denied via Form I-130.
  • Due to the refusal of the K-3 nonimmigrant visa holder’s application for registration of permanent residence or adjustment of status, submitted via Form I-485.
  • When the bearer of a K-3 visa applies for an immigrant visa in their native country and is denied by the consulate.
  • Divorce or annulment is used to end a marriage.

Furthermore, K-4 status expires when:

  • The parent’s K-3 status is no longer active.
  • The kids are all over the age of 21.
  • Before obtaining the Green Card, the children get married.

Have Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the differences between K-3 and K-4 visas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team at Pride Immigration. We are ready and eager to assist you with any questions you may have in order to make obtaining the proper visa a seamless experience.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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