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What opportunities does the K-3 spouse non-immigrant visa provide and how to get it

The K-3 visa process was designed to help reduce the physical separation of a foreign national and his or her spouse, a US citizen, writes Citizenpath. This visa allows a foreigner to enter the United States while a green card application is being considered. In practice, obtaining a K-3 visa is rarely used. Although this type of visa remains an integral part of immigration law, it is not easy for most couples to obtain one.

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What is a K-3 visa?

The K-3 visa is a temporary (non-immigration) visa for a foreigner who is a spouse of a US citizen. A United States citizen may request the use of a K-3 visa to reduce physical separation with their spouse with foreign citizenship.

After obtaining a K-3 visa, a foreign spouse can enter the United States pending approval of an immigrant visa application (Form I-130). Most K-3 visa recipients choose permanent residency status as soon as they arrive in the United States. Children of K-3 visa applicants receive a K-4 visa. Both K-3 and K-4 visa applicants may be located in the United States while green card applications are pending approval by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In fact, a K-3 visa for spouses is similar to a K-1 visa for grooms and brides. That is why both applications use the same application.

Typical scenario solved by the K-3 visa process

Here is a typical dilemma that can be solved with a K-3 visa. John is a U.S. citizen based in China. During work, he meets a Chinese woman named Mei, and the couple eventually marry in China. John's employer asks to repatriate him to the USA. The couple will move to the United States, so May must get an immigrant visa (green card). John should be back in the United States within 6 months, but the immigration process may take a year or more. John and May are concerned about the separation and additional costs of visiting each other. Even more complicating questions: the couple has a child who will have to be separated from his father during the move and waiting.

Having received a K-3 visa (and a K-4 visa for an accompanying child), the family stays together. May with a child go to the USA with John.

Once in the United States, May and the child can change their status to permanent instead of applying through the embassy or consulate. Although the whole process may take a little longer, the whole family stays together while waiting.

On the subject: How to get a green card for marriage: six basic steps

How to apply for a K-3 visa

The eligibility for a K-3 visa is fairly simple. The prospective immigrant must:

  • Marry a US citizen and
  • be in standby status on I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

To apply for a K-3 visa, a U.S. citizen first applies for I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Application I-130 is a request to start a family immigration process.

Approximately 2-3 weeks after the I-130 application is submitted, USCIS will send the applicant a notification of I-797 action confirming receipt of the application. Once a U.S. citizen receives this receipt letter (I-797), he or she can submit Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé (e) to apply for a K-3 visa.

If there are children who will accompany a foreign spouse in the United States, a US citizen is not required to submit separate I-129F applications for each child. Instead, list the child (s) in the same I-129F form.

Steps for obtaining a K-3 visa

Step 1. Apply for a K-3 visa

As explained above, a US citizen must first file Form I-130 and receive a receipt letter before he or she can file Form I-129F on behalf of the foreign spouse. After USCIS approves the application, they will send it to the National Visa Application Center (NVC) for further processing.

Step 2. Processing at the National Visa Center

If NVC receives an approved I-129F application before it receives an approved I-130 application, the Center will process I-129F. However, if I-130 is approved first, NVC will administratively close the K-3 case. This is because the case is controversial. After obtaining an immigrant visa, a K-3 visa is not required. In these cases, the foreign spouse will be redirected to complete the procedure for obtaining an immigrant visa through the consular process.

Step 3. Interview for a K-3 visa

Assuming that NVC first receives your approved I-129F form, it will be sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which the couple married. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will send a couple instructions for completing the K-3 visa application. They will require that the foreign spouse undergo a medical examination and interview.

Step 4. Entrance to the USA

A foreign spouse may enter the United States after the U.S. Embassy or Consulate approves the K-3 visa. An immigration officer from the US Embassy or Consulate will provide a sealed package containing a K-3 visa and any additional documents that you have provided. Do not open the sealed bag. When you enter the United States, a customs and border guard will open it himself.

While in the United States, you can start applying for a status change (green card) even if your I-130 application has not yet been reviewed. You can also obtain a work permit if you apply for Form I-765.

K-3 visa is valid for 2 years. A visa holder can travel and re-enter the United States several times.

On the subject: 5 dangerous mistakes when applying for a green card on marriage

The necessary package of documents for the K-3 visa process

The foreign spouse (and all children eligible for a K-4 visa) will be required to bring the following forms and documents for the interview:

  1. completed form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Applicants (and all children eligible for a K-4 visa) must: (1) fill out a DS-160 form and (2) print a DS-160 confirmation page to bring for a K-3 visa interview;
  2. a passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity period of at least 6 months after the intended period of stay in the United States;
  3. civil documents - originals (or certified copies) and photocopies of such documents:
  • birth certificate;
  • US Marriage Certificate
  • certificate of divorce or death of any of the previous spouses;
  • police certificates from the current country of residence and all countries where the applicant has lived for 6 months or more since 16 years old (police certificates are also required to accompany children aged 16 years and older;
  • medical examination (recommended - with vaccinations);
  • confirmation of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support);
  • two 2 ″ x2 ″ passport-style photographs;
  • Certificate of relationship with a spouse of a US citizen;
  • proof of payment of fees.

Real statistics for K-3 visas

The K-3 visa process may seem like the perfect solution for your situation. Unfortunately, most couples are unlikely to get a K-3 visa.

Consider the statistics. In fiscal 2018, the U.S. Department of State issued only 6 K-3 visas, compared to 108 immigrant (IR958 / CR1) visas for spouses of U.S. citizens.

There is no official explanation as to why there is so much discrepancy. There is speculation that NVC and USCIS intend to limit the issuance of K-3 visas by delaying the processing of K-3 until I-130 applications catch up. If I-130 is approved, there is no reason to issue a K-3 visa, and the application may be administratively closed.

You can apply for a K-3 visa, but you must also understand the likelihood of getting it: it is extremely low. In order to plan your move, it is often easier to rely on a more predictable process - an immigrant visa.

Miscellaneous visa nonimmigrant visa Immigration in the USA

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