The K-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for an individual who has a valid marriage to a U.S. citizen, and who seeks to enter the United States to await approval of an I-130 immigrant visa petition that the U.S. citizen spouse has filed on his or her behalf. If the K-3 applicant married abroad, he or she must apply for a visa in the country where the marriage took place or, if there is no consular post in that country, at a post designated by the U.S. Department of State.

A K-3 visa holder cannot change status to any other type of nonimmigrant visa classification while in the United States. A K-3 visa holder cannot adjust status to permanent residence on any basis other than marriage to the same U.S. citizen who petitioned for the K-3 status. Other non immigrants cannot apply to change status to K-3.

A K-3 entrant is eligible for work authorization and must obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) through USCIS before beginning work.

How to Apply
Two petitions must be filed, the I-130 and I-129F. The U.S. citizen spouse must file an I-130 immigrant visa petition on behalf of the foreign spouse in the jurisdiction where the U. S. citizen resides and file the I-129F petition with USCIS in the United States.

After the USCIS approves the I-129F, the approved petition is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) which then transfers the paperwork to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in the foreign spouses’ country. The foreign spouse will then apply for the K-3 visa at the Embassy/Consulate. The foreign spouse must show that he or she meets the requirements for issuance of an immigrant visa. These requirements include a valid passport, birth certificate, divorce or death certificate for any previous spouse, police certificates for every country lived in since age 16, any court or prison records, a medical examination, evidence of financial support, evidence of a valid relationship with the petitioner, and photographs.

The K-3 visa generally will be approved for two years by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and allows for multiple entries to the United States. The K-3 spouse is also eligible to apply for work authorization. Extensions of stay are granted for additional two-years only where the U.S. citizen spouse has filed and has not yet received an approval of an I-130 petition, or where the K-3 spouse has filed for immigrant visa processing abroad or adjustment of status in the United States and has not yet received an approval.

After the K-3 spouse enters the United States, and the I-130 petition is approved, he or she may file an I-485 application for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence, but only based upon marriage to the same U.S. citizen spouse who petitioned for his or her K-3 status. The K-3 spouse also has the option to continue the visa processing application at the U.S. consulate abroad while living and working in the U.S. under K-3 status.

Unmarried children under 21 years of age of K-3 visa holders need only establish that they are the child of a K-3 applicant in order to receive a K-4 visa. The K-4 dependent does not need a separate petition by the U.S. citizen spouse of the K-3 visa holder. K-4 dependents also may apply for work authorization in the United States. After the dependent enters the United States in K-4 status, the U.S. citizen parent should file an I-130 petition on the child’s behalf that will serve as the basis for permanent residency.

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