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K-3 Visas: Helping Reunite Married Couples

A foreign-citizen spouse of a United States citizen who is outside the U.S. may apply for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa to enter and reside in this country. Following this sequence of steps can help a married couple consisting of a non-U.S. citizen and a U.S. citizen reunite in the U.S. without delay while waiting for approval of an immigrant visa petition.

Commonly Asked Questions And Answers About K-3 Visas

What is the difference between a K-3 and a K-1?

The intention of a K-1 is for fiancé(e)s. It allows ae foreign fiancé(e) to come to the United States to marry and be with their U.S.-citizen fiancé(e) and then adjust their status to a legal permanent resident in the U.S.

The K-3 is designed for people who are already married. Theoretically, it should shorten the time that the married couple would need to be separated, as it allows for the foreign spouse to enter the United States to wait for the approval of legal permanent resident status rather than waiting overseas.

How much time does a K-3 save over normal immigrant visa processing?

In many cases, going through the K-3 process may reunite the couple in the United States approximately one to three months faster than simply waiting overseas for the immigrant visa to process. However, this does not happen in all cases. In some cases, the immigrant visa is actually processed before the K-3 can be approved. In these cases, the K-3 is denied and a foreign spouse can simply come over on the immigrant visa to receive their legal permanent residence (green card).

Where does the interview take place for the K-3 visa?

The foreign spouse must apply for the visa and have the interview at the U.S. consulate in the country in which the marriage took place. This rule can add complications to cases in which the couple had a destination wedding in a third country.

Can a K-3 visa applicant bring their children to the U.S.?

Yes. Unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for K-4 visas to travel with the K-3 beneficiary.

How long does a K-3 last?

The grant for a K-3 visa is two years. By then, the adjustment of status application should be approved, and the K-3 applicant should be a legal permanent resident of the U.S. If not, the K-3 can be extended for two years at a time.

Can I work or travel on a K-3 after entering the U.S.?

Yes. A person on K-3 status can work in the United States, but they must first apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) before doing so. With the EAD approved, the K-3 beneficiary can work for a United States employer without formal sponsorship.

The beneficiary can also travel outside the United States without advance parole as long as there is a valid, unexpired visa in their passport.

Contact Fok Immigration Law To Discuss Your Family’s Immigration Options

We have helped families immigrate to the United States for more than 15 years. If you are trying to navigate this complex process, call our San Jose office at 408-212-7014. You can also contact us online. We serve clients in the Bay Area and throughout California.

Note: This information is derived and summarized from a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) source.