K-3 Spouse Visa

Read Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

1. What is a K-3 visa?

A K-3 visa allows foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens, and the spouse’s children, to come to the United States on nonimmigrant visas (K-3 and K-4) and wait in the United States to complete the immigration process. Before a K-4 visa can be issued to a child, the parent must have a K-3 visa or must be in K-3 status.

2. Who is a "Spouse"?

A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife. Merely cohabiting with your domestic partner does not qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes. A common-law spouse may, however, qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes depending on the laws of the jurisdiction or country where the common-law marriage exists. In cases of polygamy only the first spouse qualifies as a spouse for immigration. U.S. law does not recognize or allow polygamy. If either spouse was married before, they must show that all previous marriages have been terminated (through death, divorce or annulment) before current marriage took place.

The death, divorce, or annulment documents that show termination of marriages must be legal and verifiable in the country that issued them. Divorces must be final. In cases of legal marriage to two or more spouses at the same time, or marriages overlapping for a period of time, the U.S. citizen may file only for the first spouse as the U.S. does not recognize the second marriage, regardless of the laws of the country where the marriage took place.

3. Who is Eligible to Apply for a K-3 or K-4 Visa?

A foreign national may receive a K-3 visa if that person has:

  1. A valid marriage to a U.S. citizen;
  2. The U.S. citizen has filed a relative petition (Form I-130) for the foreign national spouse;
  3. Seeks to enter the United States to await the approval of the I-130 petition and subsequent lawful permanent resident status; and,
  4. An approved Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancée, that has been forwarded to the U.S. consulate abroad where the foreign national spouse wishes to apply for the K-3 (this is usually in the country where the U.S. citizen and foreign national were married);
  5. A foreign national may receive a K-4 visa if that person is under 21 years of age and is the unmarried child of a foreign national spouse eligible to receive a K-3 visa.

4. How does a K-3 Visa Work?

Once a U.S. citizen and foreign national have been married, the K-3 visa allows the foreign national spouse to enter the U.S. to live while waiting to complete the permanent resident process. The U.S. citizen must file a Form I-130 on behalf of the foreign national spouse with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the citizen’s place of residence. Once the U.S. citizen petitioner receives a Form I-797, Notice of Action (Receipt Notice), indicating that the I-130 has been received by the USCIS, the U.S. citizen should then file a Form I-129F, along with a copy of the I-797. The I-129F should include the foreign national spouse and his or her children, even if the children are not planning to come to the U.S. immediately. The I-129F is filed with the Service Center where the underlying I-130 petition is pending. Use the address listed on the most recent receipt notice or transfer notice and include a copy of that notice with your Form I-129F.

U.S. citizen petitioners must be careful to follow all instructions on each form and provide all the necessary and requested documentation. Once the Form I-129F has been approved, the petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center, who will then transfer it to the applicable consulate so that the foreign national spouse, and children may apply for their nonimmigrant K-3 and K-4 visas.

5. How Much Does it Cost to Apply for K-3 Visa?

Costs vary from country to country and case to case. But in general, fees are charged for the following services:

  1. Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130;
  2. Applying for a nonimmigrant visa application, DS-156;
  3. Medical examination (costs vary from post to post);
  4. Fingerprinting fees, if required;
  5. Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status;
  6. Other costs may include translation and photocopying charges, fees for getting the documents required for the visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.), and travel expenses to the embassy or consulate for an interview.