The K-3 is intended for foreign-citizen spouses of United States (U.S.) citizens, K-3 non-immigrant visas are meant to facilitate the unity of spouses. In practice, the K-3 non-immigrant visa allows the applicant to have the visa granted in a foreign country. The K-3 visa then allows the holder to enter the U.S. while awaiting approval of an immigrant visa petition. This way, foreign-citizens can reside in the U.S. with their citizen spouses while waiting for immigration paperwork to be processed. Eventually, K-3 visa holders need to apply for permanent resident status (LRP). This process flows through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Guidelines for K-3 Visas
Guidelines for non-immigrant K-3 visas require the U.S. citizen spouse to file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of the foreign-born spouse. This stipulation necessitates that the non-citizen applicant meet the requirements of an immigrant visa. Also, U.S. immigration law mandates that K-3 visas be applied for in the country where spouses were married. When applicable, children who have a parent applying for a K-3 visa will also be be given K-4 visas. Like the K-3 visa, the K-4 visa affords the visa holder the ability to reside in the U.S. while the petition process moves through the proper channels.
How is a spouse defined?
Legally defined as a wedded husband or wife, spouses must do more than merely cohabitate in order to meet the spousal requirement for the purposes of obtaining a K-3 visa. Common-law spouses can be granted the same standing as legal spouses. This standing rests on the laws of the country where the common-law marriage is established. Polygamous marriages have a unique status, and the first spouse in such an arrangement is the only spouse eligible for immigration. A progressive stance on same-sex marriages sees such unions as eligible for immigration.
Social Security Number
Before obtaining a social security number (SSN), non-immigrant visa holders need to secure employment authorization documents (EADs). Full completion of Form I-765 is required to begin this process. Form I-765 must be accompanied with the I-485 Adjustment of Status petition in order to be granted the necessary EADs. When the paperwork is in compliance, the visa holder will take the marriage certificate to the social security office. There, the K-3 visa holder will be given a social security card with a new number and their married name. Throughout this process, lawyers conversant in immigration law will be helpful.
Benefits of the K-3 visa
Notably, obtaining a K-3 visa takes comparatively less time than other options. A shorter waiting period is advantageous for most couples. Applicants for K-3 visas are allowed to file paperwork to obtain work permits. This is also helpful. Finally, those holding K-3 visas can travel to the U.S. with children under 21 by taking advantage of the K-4 visa for dependents.
K-3 Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some helpful questions and answers to some of the most common questions regarding K-3 visas:
Q: What do I need to do to apply for a K-3 visa?
A: Applicants must be legally married to a U.S. citizen. The citizen spouse needs to file an I-130 petition on behalf of the foreign-born spouse. Finally, the foreign-born spouse must enter the U.S. with the intention of petitioning for a green card.
Q: How long does it take to process a K-3 visa?
A: While determined on a case by case basis, a K-3 visa takes anywhere from 3-5 months once received by USCIS. The Consulate will need to process the paperwork for 2-3 months, as well.
Q: How long does a K-3 visa last?
A: A maximum of 2 years or until the I-130 form is approved, at which point the application for a green card can commence. Extensions to a K-3 visa can be obtained if the USCIS takes longer than 2 years to approve the I-130.
Q: Once in the U.S., what can you do with a K-3 visa?
A: Yes. EAD visa form I-765 affords K-3 visa holders the ability either to work or to study in the U.S.
Consultations Are Available!
If you are interested in learning about your legal options, our immigration attorneys are able to guide individuals through the entire visa application process. The firm will oversee all aspects of preparing and filing forms on behalf of U.S. citizens and their foreign-born spouses. We are eager to guide applicants through this process from start to finish. Call our office or contact our firm online to discuss your case today!