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K-3 Visas for Spouses of American Citizens

What is the K-3 Marriage Visa?

Numerous Americans marry foreign nationals each year. Sometimes they meet interesting people during their travels, while their assigned in a foreign country, through a common friend, or through online dating websites. They meet, they fall in love, and, in some cases, eventually tie the knot.

American citizens who want to bring their foreign spouse to the U.S. can actually do so in a number of ways. They can file a petition for an immigrant visa (a CR-1 or IR-1 visa depending upon the specific circumstances of their case) or file a supplemental petition for K-3 non-immigrant visa benefits. Those who have yet to marry a prospective spouse can file for K-1 fiancee visa benefits and marry in the USA.  The K-3 visa can be obtained overseas via Consular Processing and was statutorily designed to shorten the separation of the U.S. citizen and his or her foreign partner. It can be used to be lawfully admitted to the USA while the foreign spouse awaits the approval of the immigrant visa petition.

After arriving in the USA in K-3 status, the foreign spouse should apply to change his or her status to lawful permanent residence through the appropriate channels of the Department of Homeland Security. A K-3 applicant must meet basically the same requirements of an immigrant visa. In addition, a foreign citizen who marries a U.S. citizen in another country needs to apply for the K-3 visa in the place where the couple were wed.

The K-3 Process

The K-3 visa category was created under the provisions of the so-called LIFE Act. The category was created at a time when immigrant spouse visas were taking considerably more time to process relative to the K-1 fiancee category. Therefore, Congress felt that an equitable remedy could be found in creating a new K category to expedite processing of spousal visa cases.

In many ways, the K-3 processes much the same as a K-1. An underlying immigrant visa petition must be submitted prior to filing a K-3 supplemental petition. In the event that the underlying immigrant visa petition is approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to the K-3 petition then there is a high probability that the National Visa Center will administratively close the supplemental K-3 application and require the foreign national to process the immigrant visa application.

For related detailed information please see: K-3 visa