Who is it for: Similar to K-1 visas, K-3 visas are issued to foreign spouses of U.S. citizens. This class of visa was added in 2000 as part of the Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act to minimize the potential for a long separation period between a U.S. citizen and their foreign national spouse.
Normally, a U.S. citizen must submit a Petition for Alien Relative Form I-130 on behalf of their foreign born spouse to gain admittance into the United States. Due to a high backlog of these kinds of applications, the creation of a K-3 visa allows the U.S. citizen to file an additional application on Form I-129 while their Form I-130 is being processed. This allows the spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years old to enter into the country as nonimmigrants more quickly.
The foreign born spouse is admitted under a K-3 visa and the children are admitted under a K-4 visa. The children do not have to enter the United States at the same time as their parent. They have up to one year to immigrate after their parent is issued a K-3 visa.
Check Your Eligibility
Immigrant or Non-immigrant visa: The K-3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, but it is part of the process that eventually leads to the issuance of an immigrant visa.
Duration: The issuance of K-3 visa is the first step toward becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States. As such, all K category visa holders are required to file an Application to Register Permanent Resident and Adjust Status, Form I-485 after they arrive in the United States. As such, the duration of a K-3 visa does not apply while the processing to become a lawful permanent resident is taking place.
Details: Applicants must apply for a K-3 visa in the same country where their marriage occurred.
Once in America, K-3 visa holders may only apply to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident through the same United States citizen who was the petitioner for them to receive their K-3 visa. While you are waiting for your green card application to process, you can apply for two-year extensions of your K-3 visa.
To apply: To apply for a K-3 visa, the United States citizen starts the application process by petition process for their foreign spouse by filing a Form I-129. If qualifying children are involved, the application process for K-4 visas should also be made at the same time.
Check Your Eligibility
Once the application is approved, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center who forwards it to the embassy or consulate of the home country of the spouse. Embassy officials will then schedule a medical exam and a visa interview. At the end of the interview, the U.S. official may issue the K-3 visa or request more documentation prior to making a final decision.
For more information: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services maintains a comprehensive web page for K visa information.