USA and the UK
How to apply for a U.S. K-3 Visa for your spouse
With a nonimmigrant K3 Spouse Visa, also known as K3 Visa, your foreign spouse may be allowed to enter the U.S. under a temporary legal status for two years. During this time, applicants can apply for a permanent residence card while living in the United States with their families.
If you are a couple and want to move to the U.S. together, this visa may be the perfect opportunity to start a new life in the country. You can also bring your children with you and receive a K4 dependent Visa.
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K-3 Visa requirements
If you want to apply for a K-3 Visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be legally married outside the U.S.;
- You must be a U.S. citizen. Green card holders are not eligible for this visa;
- Your spouse must currently reside outside the U.S.;
Same-sex spouses are eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex couples. However, only legally wedded husbands or wives are recognized as a “spouse”. Merely living together does not qualify for immigration benefits.
U.S. Spouse Visa validity period
The K3 Visa is valid for two years. During this time, it is not possible to apply for any another non-immigrant permit category.
To be granted an extension, your spouse must submit a Form I-539 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This must be done within 120 days before the K-3 Spouse visa expires. This extension will grant a further 2-year increment.
Your marriage may end through divorce or annulment before your spouse becomes a lawful permanent resident. In this case, all your K-3 visa benefits automatically terminate after 30 days.
Applying for a K3 Visa
In the first place, you must apply for the K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place by submitting a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). With this form, you ask to establish your relationship with your alien relatives who wish to join you in the country.
If your spouse meets the requirements, you must then fill out the Form I-129. At this stage of the application, you will need to provide any proof of identification such as your passports. The USCIS will send your spouse a receipt within 30 days from the time the form is filed.
The application process lasts about six to nine months. Your I-129F petition is valid for four months from the date of its approval. However, a Consular Office can extend its validity if it expires before the K-3 visa process is completed.
Spouse Visa Application Process
If USCIS approves your Form I-130 first
If USCIS approves your I-130F before or at the same time as I-129F, your spouse and his or her children will no longer need a K-3 or K-4 visa. After having their I-130F approved, they must directly apply for immigrant visas. This will let them seek admission as lawful permanent residents.
If USCIS approves your form I-129 First
If Form I-129 is approved before, your petition will be sent to the Department of State. To proceed with your application, your spouse must submit an additional nonimmigrant visa request.
Although a Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) is not required at this stage, you must still demonstrate that you will not become a public charge while in the U.S.
Attending the interview
After 30 days from the Form I-129 approval, your spouse will receive an invitation for an interview. This will take place at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country about 4-6 weeks after the date of the invitation. The final decision should be ready on the same day or shortly after.
The next step is to file the DS-160 visa application form and uploading it on the Department of State’s website. You will require a printed confirmation of this process, along with other documents.
K-3 Visa required documents
When submitting your application form, you must attach the following supporting documents:
- Your passport, which must be valid for more than six months after the date you plan to enter the U.S.;
- Your spouse’s medical examination and vaccination documents;
- Your birth and marriage certificates;
- Court and criminal records;
- Evidence that you can financially support yourself and your family.
K3 Visa application fees
Fees are charged at different stages of your K3 Visa application process:
- Presentation of the I-130 Immigration Petition for Alien Relative Form: $535;
- Submission of the I-129 Petition for Alien Fiancé Form: $460;
- Medical examination fee;
- Biometric services fee.
The total cost of a K3 Visa is usually up to $994, but there may be other services fees.
How to extend a K3 Visa
If you wish to renew your visa, you can submit a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, at least 120 days before your authorised stay expires.
You cannot apply for an extension of stay if your marriage terminated before you could apply for a renewal or for a Green Card.
Your children can apply for an extension of stay as well. This will be granted for a further 2-year period or until the day they turn 21.
Seeking employment on a K3 Visa
K3 Visa holders are automatically authorized to work in the U.S. However, if you need evidence of your employment authorization, you can file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Alternatively, you can apply for a Green Card and seek employment based on your pending status.
Travel Authorization for K-3 Visa holders
As a K3 Visa holder, you can travel temporarily outside the U.S. and use your visa status to seek admission to the country when you return from your foreign travel. If your visa will be expired when you return to the U.S., but you have a pending Form I-485, you must first hold approved parole.
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If your spouse wants to join you in the U.S., there are different visas that can fit your needs depending on your situation, such as:
- K3 Spouse Visa, for partners of U.S. citizens who are awaiting approval of their I-130 immigrant petition;
- CR-1 Visa (Conditional Resident), for those who have just got married and will need to wait at least two years before they can adjust their conditional status;
- IR-1 Visa (Immediate Relative), for couples who have been married for at least two years and are eligible for gaining permanent status unconditionally.
If you have biological or adopted children, they can travel to the U.S on a K-4 visa status. To be eligible, they must be unmarried and under the age of 21.
If you have been refused your nonimmigrant K3 Spouse Visa, your children will not be eligible to apply for a K-4 visa.
As a part of your application, you must present evidence of your available financial means. Most importantly, you must prove that you are able to support yourself and your spouse financially.
For this reason, you are required to file a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support.
Before you attend your interview, you will need to schedule and complete a medical examination. This must be performed by an authorized panel physician. Based on your home country and personal situation, you will receive detailed instructions regarding the required medical examinations.
Once you get your K3 Visa, you can apply to obtain a Marriage Green Card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the US.
To change your status, you must first be living in the U.S. on a valid visa. Afterwards, you need to file a Form I-148 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). If your application is approved, you will be recognised as a U.S. legal resident. Otherwise, your Spouse Visa may be revoked or not renewed at the end of your authorised stay.
The consular officer may ask for additional information to review the authenticity of your relation, such as wedding photographs or written statements from people who know you both.
Any documents in foreign languages must be translated by an accredited professional.
Your authorized stay automatically terminates 30 days after one of the following events:
- USCIS denies or revokes your Form I-130;
- USCIS denies your Form I-485;
- Your marriage to a U.S. citizen ends through divorce or annulment before you become an LPR.
You and your partner must be legally married to qualify for a K3 Visa. U.S. immigration law does not recognise living together or civil partnerships as being married.
Common-law spouses may qualify for immigration purposes depending on the law of the country where the marriage occurred.
As a part of your application bundle, you will be required to submit a valid certificate of marriage.
If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and you are being forced to sponsor your partner for immigration benefits, you may withdraw your petition at any time before USCIS processes it.
Once your petition is withdrawn, your partner may receive a notification from USCIS. For this reason, before you proceed, it is recommended to speak with an immigration lawyer to seek assistance.
If you are a victim of forced marriage, you can get in touch with our team to discuss your situation and plan for your safety with one of our experts.