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Obtaining a k3 visa for your spouse

September 5, 2011 by Todays Immigration  
Filed under Visas

K3 visaThe K3 Visa

A k3 visa allows a legal United States citizen’s spouse to live in the United States while the spouse is awaiting approval of a green card application or to complete their own immigration process. If a k3 visa is approved, the spouse of a U.S. citizen can legally enter and live in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa category.

The k3 visa category was established under Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) in order to streamline the process for families to reside together while some members are still waiting to receive full citizenship or a green card. For this reason, a child can receive a k4 visa if one parent has successfully achieved a k3 status.

Although the immigration process can be daunting, especially for spouses and children, the k3 marriage visa process is fairly straightforward and can be easily completed without necessarily needing to pay for the services of an immigration lawyer.

K3 Visa Eligibility

To be eligible for a k3 visa, more commonly known as the “marriage visa,” the spouse must be legally wedded to a U.S. citizen. In addition, the spouse must already have a green card petition filed and awaiting approval or, alternately, be seeking to come to the U.S. to obtain permanent resident status.

Common law husbands and wives may be eligible depending on the laws of the country that acknowledged the common-law status of the couple. Partners that have cohabited for an extended period of time, however, are not eligible. If either spouse was married prior to applying for the k3 visa, then they must provide documentation proving the marriage was legally terminated in the country where the previous marriage took place.

If the U.S. citizen applying for a k3 visa comes from a country where polygamy is legal, then only the first wife or husband of the applicant will be eligible for a k3 visa because the United States does not legally allow polygamy.

The K3 Visa Paperwork Process

The first step in a filing for a marriage visa is for the spouse that is a U.S. citizen to file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative form (an I-130) with a U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (the USCIS) office. The USCIS will then send you another form (the I-797) to let you know they have received it.

Once the spouse has received the I-797, he or she needs to then file for a Petition for Alien Fiancé (I-129F) for the spouse and any children. Although the form will say “fiancée” on it, just assume “fiancée” means spouse. Then that form is sent to the USCIS office along with the I-797 form that was received after filing the first petition and any other necessary documents.

Where the K3 Visa Paperwork Goes

Once the Petition for Alien Fiancé is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center, which in turn sends it on to the country where the spouses were married.

Processes are in place to account for mitigating circumstances that may crop up during this part of the application process. For example, if the couple was married in the U.S., then the petition is simply sent to the visa-issuing bureau (such as a consulate or embassy) in the country of the k3 applicant’s nationality.

Alternately, if the applicant spouse is from a country in which the U.S. has no embassies or consulates, then the petition is sent to whichever country issues visas for that country. So, if the spouse applying for a k3 visa is Iranian, the petition would be sent to Turkey because the U.S. does not have an embassy in Iran.

The Fiance Visa

In addition, a k1 visa, or fiancé visa, is available to a U.S. citizen’s significant other, although there are several additional requirements. If a k1 visa is approved, the fiancée entering the United States can only do so once and a marriage must take place within 90 days. The non-citizen fiancé applicant cannot leave the country after entering it without filing additional request forms to travel. Additional paperwork must also be completed for the fiancée to work in the United States while awaiting permanent resident status.

Since the fiancée is considered an immigrant by the United States, the k1 applicant must meet all the requirements of an immigrant visa.

Other Resources

If the rather convoluted process of bringing a spouse, fiancée or child over to the U.S. is far too challenging or time-consuming for the U.S. citizen attempting to unite his or her family, the spouse can utilize the resources of an immigration attorney or immigration service. These agencies employ attorneys that sub-specialize in various fields of immigration law, sometimes called a k1 visa lawyer, including the immigration visa process and help navigate people through the green card application process.

With the help of a k3 visa attorney, U.S. citizens reunite with their loved ones quickly and legally.


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