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.

Map with North America depicted in white, with the most populated cities represented as small black dots, with darker shades indicating higher population density

Contact Us