K3 Visas for Spouses Explained

Updated on April 10, 2024

When a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national, they may want to bring their spouse to the United States as quickly as possible. While the most common path is through the CR1/IR1 spousal visa, another option is the K3 visa. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of the K3 visa, its purpose, requirements, and application process.

30 Second Recap:

The K3 visa allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States while awaiting the approval of their immigrant visa petition. To be eligible, the U.S. citizen sponsor must have filed Form I-130, and the couple must be legally married. The application process involves filing Forms I-130 and I-129F, attending a visa interview, and applying for adjustment of status after entering the U.S. The processing time can take 6-12 months, and the total cost includes various filing fees and other expenses. While the K3 visa can provide a faster path to reunification, improved I-130 processing times have made it less necessary in some cases.

What Is a K3 Visa?

The K3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States while awaiting the approval of their immigrant visa petition (Form I-130). This visa type was created to help reduce the lengthy processing times for immigrant visas and to reunite married couples more quickly.

Eligibility Requirements for a K3 Visa

To be eligible for a K3 visa, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The U.S. citizen sponsor must have filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of their foreign spouse.
  2. The foreign spouse must be legally married to the U.S. citizen sponsor.
  3. The marriage must be valid and bona fide, not entered into solely for immigration purposes.
  4. The foreign spouse must be outside the United States at the time of application.

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K3 Visa Application Process

The K3 visa application process involves several steps:

  1. File Form I-130: The U.S. citizen sponsor must file Form I-130 with USCIS to establish their relationship with the foreign spouse.
  2. File Form I-129F: After receiving the I-130 receipt notice, the U.S. citizen sponsor must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with USCIS. This form is used to classify the foreign spouse as a K3 nonimmigrant.
  3. Attend the visa interview: Once the I-129F is approved, the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) and then to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign spouse’s country of residence. The foreign spouse will attend a visa interview and provide supporting documents, such as a valid passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and proof of the bona fide nature of the marriage.
  4. Enter the U.S. and apply for adjustment of status: If the K3 visa is approved, the foreign spouse may enter the United States. They must then file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to obtain a green card.

K3 Visa Processing Time

The processing time for a K3 visa can vary depending on several factors, including the workload of USCIS and the U.S. embassy or consulate. On average, the entire process can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months, from the time the U.S. citizen sponsor files Form I-130 to the time the foreign spouse receives the K3 visa.

It’s important to note that processing times for the I-130 petition have improved in recent years, which may make the K3 visa less necessary in some cases. If the I-130 petition is approved before the K3 visa is issued, the K3 visa will be administratively closed, and the foreign spouse will need to proceed with the immigrant visa process instead.

K3 Visa Cost

The total cost of a K3 visa can vary but typically includes the following fees:

  1. Form I-130 filing fee: $535
  2. Form I-129F filing fee: $535
  3. Nonimmigrant visa application fee (DS-160): $265
  4. Medical examination fees: Varies by country and medical facility
  5. USCIS Immigrant Fee (after entering the U.S.): $220

Additional costs may include travel expenses for the visa interview and the cost of obtaining required documents, such as birth certificates and marriage certificates.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the K3 Visa

The primary advantage of the K3 visa is that it can allow the foreign spouse to enter the United States more quickly than waiting for the immigrant visa process to be completed. However, there are also some disadvantages to consider:

  1. Processing times for the I-130 petition have improved in recent years, making the K3 visa less necessary in many cases.
  2. The K3 visa holder must still file for adjustment of status after entering the United States, which can be a lengthy process.
  3. If the I-130 petition is approved before the K3 visa is issued, the K3 visa will be administratively closed, and the foreign spouse will need to proceed with the immigrant visa process instead.
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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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