If you don’t want to be separated from your U.S. citizen spouse for too long while your immigrant petition is pending, you may apply for a K-3 visa.
Why Apply For a K-3 Visa
As a U.S. citizen, being separated from your foreign spouse is by no means a merry situation. What comes to mind first would be to bring them into the U.S. and enjoy a wonderful life together. But the structure of U.S immigration law is not exactly making things easy.
Not only is it difficult to help your spouse immigrate to the U.S., but the process also takes a lot of time. Hence, separating you for a while longer, and partially defeating the whole point of helping them immigrate in the first place.
However, within the complex and cumbersome structure of U.S. immigration, there is a potential solution. A solution that will allow you to achieve two of your goals: to help your foreign spouse immigrate to the U.S. and it may significantly shorten your time apart from each other. And your one-stop solution is the K-3 visa.
Introduction To The K-3 Visa
The K-3 visa is a visa filed by your foreign spouse. It was intended to shorten the physical separation between you and your foreign spouse. To be specific, it allows your foreign spouse to enter the U.S. while they wait for USCIS ‘decision on their immigrant visa petition.
After filing an immigrant visa petition for your foreign spouse, he/she would normally have to wait for a decision in their home country. However, the K-3 visa will allow your spouse to wait for a decision in the United States. Hence, reuniting you with your spouse(and children, if any) much earlier than usual.
The K-3 Visa is the first step to help your spouse immigrate to the U.S. Once they obtain this visa and enter the U.S., he/she may then file Form I-485 to obtain a green card.
Eligibility For The K-3 Visa
As a rule, the K-3 Visa applies only to legally married U.S. citizens and their foreign spouse. Living together does not count as being married. And neither does it apply with a fiancé – that’s the K-1 visa and is a similar process but meant for a completely different situation. Do not confuse the two! It is strictly for “married” couples who fulfill the following criteria:
- You(the applicant/foreign spouse) must be legally married to a U.S. citizen. It absolutely does not apply to spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents.
- You(the applicant) must currently be residing in your home country.
- As a rule, you must already have a pending Form I-130(Petition for Alien Relative). And this form must have been filed by your U.S. citizen spouse.
- In addition to having a pending I-130, you must have an approved Form I-129F(also filed by your American spouse).
- Your U.S. citizen spouse must be financially capable of supporting you both. To determine this, he/she must prove that their income is at least 100% of HHS poverty guidelines. In case your U.S. citizen spouse doesn’t meet this requirement, they may get a joint sponsor to file Form I-864 (affidavit of support).
Applying For a K-3 Visa
Here is a simple, yet effective guide to the K-3 visa application process.
- The U.S. citizen spouse must first file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for the foreign spouse. The essence of filing Form I-130 first is to show that your foreign spouse is eligible to immigrate to the U.S.
- After receiving the notice of action for the I-130, you should file Form I-129F next. Although it’s called the Petition For Alien Fiancé, Form I-129F also applies to married couples. Hence, can be used in the application process of a K-3 visa.
To proceed to the next step, Form I-129F must be approved. And this usually takes 6-9 months.
- Now, you have to pay the processing fee, which is currently $265. You can do it online, or at a duly authorized bank. Contact us for questions: consular procedures do vary!
After completing all of the steps above, only the interview remains. The U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s country will schedule the interview. Since the interview is usually conducted within 4 – 6 weeks after notifying the applicant, you are required to undergo a medical examination while you wait.
What Documents To Carry For The Interview?
- Your original birth certificate
- Form DS-160 confirmation
- Your foreign passport
- Legal marriage certificate
- Proof Of Marriage. This could be your pending I-130
- Your U.S. citizen spouse’s affidavit of support(If needed)
- Your medical examination
- U.S. citizen spouse’s recent tax returns
- 2 passport photographs.
After the interview, you will receive a decision on the same day or some time after. If your K-3 visa is approved, you may travel to the U.S.
When Do I Not Need a K-3 Visa?
Your Form I-130 may be approved before Form I-129F. If this happens, then you( the foreign spouse) will not be eligible to use the K-3 visa and you must go back to the National Visa Center and file Form DS-260 for an immigrant visa. This is the downside to the K-3 visa – if the I-130 is approved more quickly, or if the K-3 visa takes longer than expected, even by a couple of months, you will lose the ability to use it. However, sometimes it can help shorten the period of separation.
Still Unsure? Get Help!
Under normal circumstances, the K-3 visa is a great help to married couples. But there are times when you do not need a K-3 Visa. Although it’s easy to understand it theoretically, practically determining these times is a different case. And much of the information you read online maybe was valid when it was written, but processing times and procedures change. Only by talking to someone who actually files these cases for a living can you get an idea of whether this process is for you.
What better way to figure it out than hearing it right from the mouths of professionals?
Contact The HMA Law Firm today! If you’re unsure, we will put you on the right path. And if you need help getting a K-3 visa, we will help you follow through from start to finish.