K3 Visa Guide for Spouses

Among immediate family or family-sponsored visas, some of the most popular are US spouse visas.

The K3 visa allows a spouse from a foreign country to move to the United States and reside there while awaiting approval of the immigrant visa application. This applies to married couples when one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other is from a foreign country.

Other types of US spouse visas:

There are different types of spouse visas for the United States, depending on the couple’s situation. Which one best suits your family depends on your requirements and whether you can meet them. The following visas are US spouse visas:

K3 Visa – Spouse of a US citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigration petition:

Conditional Resident Visa (CR-1): This means you are newly married and will maintain conditional status for 2 years. This is to prevent marriages from occurring solely to obtain permanent residency in the United States.
Immediate Relative Visa (IR-1): After being married for 2 years, you will get permanent status without the conditions of the CR-1 visa.

What are the eligibility criteria for the K3 visa?

There are certain criteria for a spouse from a foreign country to qualify for the K3 visa. The K3 visa applicant must fulfill the, as follows:

  • Being married to a U.S. citizen: The United States does not recognize cohabitation as marriage. The couple must present valid documents proving that the marriage is legal.
  • The US citizen must have filed a Form I-130 for a spouse from a foreign country
  • These conditions must be met, otherwise the spouse from a foreign country is not eligible to obtain the K3 visa.

How to apply for the K3 visa?

The K3 visa application process involves these two steps:

  • The US citizen spouse must complete Form I-130 and then Form I-129F and have them approved by USCIS
  • The spouse from a foreign country must apply for a K3 visa at the US embassy in the country of residence

Submission of requests

To meet the requirements for the K3 visa, the U.S. citizen must first have filed Form I-130 with USCIS for his or her spouse. If after obtaining the K3 visa, your foreign spouse wishes to change the status to a CR-1 or IR-1 visa, you can use the same application for him and a new one will not be necessary. Once the form is completed, the U.S. citizen spouse will receive Form I-797, Notice of Action from USCIS, which they can use as proof that the Form I-130 is being processed.

After filing the petition on Form I-130, the U.S. citizen spouse must then file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(s). Form I-797 and other supporting documents proving the marriage must also be attached to this form. Form I-129F must also include any dependents of your spouse from a foreign country, such as children. There is no charge for this form for K3 visa purposes.

USCIS will process the I-129F form and, upon approval, send it to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will issue a case number and invoice identification number to the applicant and send a package to the K3 applicant. The package will contain information and instructions on how to apply for the K3 visa and the required documents.

If USCIS processes both Form I-130 and Form I-129F and approves them, sending them to the NVC, the applicant will not be able to obtain a K3 visa, but will need to apply for a CR-1 visa. This is because the K3 visa is only for those whose I-130 form is still being processed and has not yet been approved.

K3 visa application:

The foreign country spouse will then need to apply for the K3 visa. The applicant must apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country using instructions sent by the NVC.

The process for applying for the K3 visa is as follows:

DS-160 archive form:

Form DS-160, Electronic Application for Nonimmigrant Visa is an online form that you, as the applicant, must complete and submit with the relevant information. You can access it using your NVC case number. The questions will cover your background and why you came to the United States. Once you complete the form, you need to submit and get the confirmation page you will need later.

Complete medical examination and vaccination:

The United States has certain medical and vaccination requirements that its citizens and immigrants must meet. Anyone wishing to immigrate to the United States must undergo the necessary medical checks and vaccinations. The CNV package you received after your petition was approved will specify what medical procedures you need to complete and what vaccines you need to have. A licensed doctor must complete the paperwork and checks. You will need to attach these documents to your support file which you will then send to the NVC.

Compile document files:

Complete the file with the documents required by the United States Embassy/Consulate for the K3 visa request. In addition to the application form, it is also necessary to attach various supporting documents such as:

  • Your passport is valid for more than 6 months after your intended entry into the United States
  • DS-260 form confirmation page
  • Medical examination and vaccination documents
  • Two US visa photographs per individual based on photography requirements
  • Birth certificate and marriage certificate
  • Judicial and criminal records and/or police certificate
  • Proof that you have financial support for the initial period in the United States (U.S. citizen spouse must provide you with Form I-134, Affidavit of Support)
  • Receipts for payment of fees

Attend the interview:

The NVC will first ensure that you have submitted all the necessary documents and then schedule the interview at the US embassy where you have applied. The interview will cover your background and reasons for coming to the United States, as well as asking for any additional documents.

Get the NVC package and travel to the United States:

If your K3 visa is approved, officials at the US embassy where you applied will give you an NVC package. Do not open this package under any circumstances. Instead, bring it with you when you travel to the United States for the first time on your K3 visa and hand it to an immigration officer at any U.S. port of entry. They will decide whether or not you can enter the nation and have the power to open it.

Validity of the K3 visa:

The K3 visa is only valid for 2 years. It can be renewed in 2-year increments, but will be revoked if the U.S. Department of State denies the Form I-130, the application for legal permanent residency, or if the couple divorces.

What are the fees for the K3 visa?

The following K3 visa fees are what you and your spouse, who is a US citizen, will have to pay:

  • Form I-130 filing fee
  • Form DS-160 processing fee
  • Expenses for medical visits and vaccinations
  • Other administrative costs for obtaining, translating, and shipping documents

How long is the K3 visa processing time?

The K3 visa processing time varies from case to case and takes 5-8 months to process.

The US Embassy in your home country may take two to three months to process, while USCIS typically takes three to five months. Additionally, US embassies in different countries have different business hours, which may speed up or delay the processing of your K3 visa.

How to become a legal permanent resident after obtaining a K3 visa?

The next step after obtaining the K3 visa is to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States by obtaining a green card by marriage. To change your status from immigrant visa to LPR, you must first have a USCIS-approved petition and visa, as well as live in the United States.

Next, you must submit Form I-485, Application for Registration of Permanent Residence or Change of Status to USCIS. This form will be processed, and if approved, you will be a legal resident of the United States. If this form is rejected, your K3 visa will be revoked or not renewed for the next period.

Legal permanent residents of the United States are treated similarly to U.S. citizens in terms of healthcare and health insurance. Get a health insurance policy as a green card holder in the US through private companies. You can explore health insurance options for LPRs here.

Can my spouse bring their children to the United States on a K3 visa?
After her spouse from a foreign country obtains the K3 visa, she can bring her children with her to the United States. Eligible children must be unmarried and under 21 years of age.

Children will be issued a K-4 visa, but if the K3 visa holder obtains the CR-1 visa, the child will also need to switch to the appropriate derivative visa. The child can live in the United States, attend school and higher education, and apply for naturalization after obtaining U.S. citizenship.

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