You are currently viewing K-3 and K-4 visas

Spouses and minor unmarried children of US citizens receive K-3 and K-4 nonimmigrant visas, respectively.

The purpose of these visas is to prevent a citizen and their family from being separated while awaiting a response to their visa applications. Once in the US, the spouse and children can make an adjustment of status to legal permanent resident. The application for both visas is made before USCIS.

The immigration lawyers in Los Angeles at Lluis Law are specialists in this type of visa. During more than 40 years of serving the Los Angeles area, we have helped hundreds of immigrant families. We speak Spanish and English, so you will feel comfortable talking to us.


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What are K-3 and K-4 visas?

The K-3 nonimmigrant visa is issued to alien spouses of United States citizens. While the K-4 visa is used so that your children can also travel and stay in the US legally. 

Aliens who marry Americans in another country require this visa to enter the United States. They must then apply for an immigrant visa that allows them to obtain a Green Card and, eventually become US citizens

  • Previously, couples had to remain separated while resolving the legal status of the alien spouse;
  • The US Congress resolved it by creating this category of temporary non-immigrant visa to bring family closer. If a foreign national marries an American outside the country, the K-3 visa must be applied for in the country where the marriage took place;
  • Eligible minors of the K-3 visa applicant will receive the K-4 visa.
K-3 and K-4 visas for spouses and children of American citizens

What does the US consider a spouse?

In the eyes of the US government, a spouse is a legally married husband or wife. Note that:

  • Merely living together does not qualify as a marriage for immigration purposes.
  • In the case of polygamy, only the first spouse can qualify as a spouse.
  • Same-sex spouses of US citizens, along with their minor children, are eligible for the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

How to process the K-3 visa?

The processing of the K-3 visa can be summarized in the following 3 steps:

Step 1: Submit Petitions

  1. The U.S. spouse must file with USCIS Form I-130 , Petition for Alien Relative. When USCIS confirms your petition, it will send you a receipt through Form I-797, Notice of Action;
  2. Next, you must file Form I-129F , Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) for your alien spouse and stepchildren;
  3. Once the petitions are approved by USCIS, they will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
how to fill out form I-130

If you want to know how to complete the I-130 petition correctly, we invite you to review “How to fill out the I-130 form”.

To obtain the K-4 visa, the US spouse can include the children of the alien spouse on the same I-129F filed. A separate I-130 must be filed for your alien spouse’s children before they can apply for a Green Card.

For approval of stepparent-stepchild eligibility, the minor must have been under the age of 18 at the time the applicant and spouse married.

Step 2: Apply for the visa

  • If NVC receives the approved I-129F petition prior to the I-130 petition, it will process the I-129F petition and send it to the US embassy or consulate in the country where the marriage took place;
  • If the marriage takes place in the US, NVC will send the application to the US embassy or consulate that issues visas in the country of origin of the foreign spouse;
  • In the event that the marriage occurs in a country where there is no US embassy or consulate, NVC will forward the petition to the embassy or consulate that processes visas for citizens of that country.

The US embassy or consulate will provide instructions for the alien spouse to follow. For example, where to go for medical examinations. During the interview, you will be asked for a fingerprint scan.

Note: Some applications require administrative processing after the visa interview. Both the separate applications and the payment of the fee must be made by each K visa applicant.

Please note that if NVC receives the approved I-130 and I-129F:

  • The K-1 visa case will be administratively closed;
  • The application process will not be available to the foreign spouse;
  • NVC will contact the US and foreign spouse with instructions to process the IR-1 or CR-1 visa.

Step 3: Apply for the Green Card

The alien spouse must travel to the US on the approved K-3 visa and apply for the Green Card. Although they can also apply for employment authorization upon arrival, they will not be able to work until their United States work permit application is approved .

k3 visa requirements

The US spouse needs to submit the following documents:

  • Proof of Citizenship: Passport of US citizenship, or with a birth or naturalization certificate;
  • Copy of the alien spouse’s passport;
  • Legal Marriage Certification: The document must be translated into English by a certified interpreter;
  • If you are divorced or widowed, submit proof: Divorce certificate, death certificate or annulment document;
  • I-94 Permit, Alien Spouse Arrival/Departure Record (if you have ever received this document);
  • Passport-style photograph of the US citizen and alien spouse;
  • Form I-797 or receipt of service of form I-130.
  • It is advisable to make a copy of all documents before submitting them. 
k-3 visa process

Documentation for the interview at the embassy 

The following documents must be brought by the foreign spouse to the interview with the US embassy or consulate:

  • Completed Form DS-160 for you and any children applying for the K-4 visa. You must print the confirmation page and bring it to your interview;
  • Legal marriage certificate;
  • Current passport that is valid for at least 6 months of validity;
  • Civil documents, such as:
    • Birth certificate;
    • Marriage certificate;
    • The divorce or death certificate of any other spouse (if applicable);
    • Certificate of conduct issued in all countries where you have resided for more than 6 months. From the age of 16 (if applicable);
  • Medical examination of the foreign spouse, signed by a doctor authorized by the Department of State (DoS);
  • Form I-134, Affidavit of Support;
  • Recent tax returns of the sponsoring spouse;
  • Evidence of the marital relationship. For this you can take copies of the documents submitted by the US spouse before USCIS. Wedding photographs and any other proof that proves the validity of the marriage can also be used;
  • 2 passport-style photos of the applicant. You must follow the instructions for the photos;
  • Payment of the filing fee of $265. It is generally paid the same day of the interview. However, it is advisable to carefully review the instructions in this regard because they may vary depending on the country.  

The consular officer may request additional information, such as your wedding photos or other evidence showing that the marriage to your U.S. spouse is bona fide. 

All documents in foreign languages ​​must be translated into English. Applicants must bring both original documents and legible photocopies of documents and translations to the interview. Said documentation will be returned.

Benefits of the K-3 and K-4 visa

Among the benefits offered by the K-3 visa and the K-4 visas we find the following: 

  • Being able to enter the US and wait for the USCIS response to the application filed by the US spouse;
  • Reduces the wait time for alien spouses and their children to enter the United States;
  • After being admitted, the holder of this visa can apply for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence;
  • Recipients of K-3 and K-4 visas can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

After obtaining the K-3 visa

Once the alien spouse receives the K-3 visa, the consular officer will give them their passport containing the K-3 visa and a sealed packet containing the civil documents they provided.

It is important not to open the sealed package. Only a DHS immigration officer can open this package when you enter the US. You may enter before or at the same time as any of your K-4 visa holder children.

Entry into the United States and the port of entry

Although a visa allows foreign nationals to travel to the US port of entry and apply for permission to enter the country, it does not guarantee entry. CBP will determine whether or not the alien spouse may enter US territory.

obtain k-3 and k-4 visas for the usa

How long does a K-3 or K-4 visa last?

K-3 and K-4 visas are valid for 2 years, but a visa extension can be requested for an additional 2 years if the I-130 form or application to adjust status is pending. Holders of a K-3 and/or K-4 visa will not be able to change their status to another nonimmigrant classification. 

The authorized stay in the US for these visas automatically expires after 30 days in the following circumstances:

  • By denial of the visa petition through Form I-130.
  • Due to the denial of the application submitted by the K-3 nonimmigrant visa holder through Form I-485, application for registration of permanent residence or adjustment of status.
  • When the K-3 visa holder applies for an immigrant visa in their home country and the consulate denies the application.
  • The marriage ends by divorce or annulment.

Additionally, K-4 status also expires when:

  • The parent’s K-3 status ends.
  • The children are over 21 years of age.
  • The children marry before obtaining the Green Card.

How long will it take to get the category K visa?

The time period varies depending on the circumstances. Some cases are delayed because applicants provided incomplete information. It is important to follow the instructions carefully to avoid failures.

Can I extend my petition if it has already expired?

The I-129F petition is valid for 4 months from the date it was approved by USCIS. Only a consular officer can extend the validity of the petition if he expires before the visa process is complete.

Can you be ineligible for the K-3 visa?

Yes, certain conditions may make you ineligible for the visa. For example, being involved in drug trafficking, submitting false documents or exceeding the visa term.

If you are ineligible for the visa, you will be notified by the consular officer and they will advise you if you have a waiver of ineligibility.

Who is eligible for a K-3 visa?

US citizens whose spouses are foreign nationals may be eligible to obtain a K-3 visa. The conditions are as follows: 

  • Being married to an alien spouse.
  • Have applied to USCIS for the alien relative through form I-130.
  • The spouse wishes to enter the US to await a response from USCIS on Form I-130.

Children of the alien spouse may also be eligible for a K-4 visa. The eligibility requirements are:

  • Being under 21 years of age and single.
  • Being the child of the K-3 visa applicant.

Can spouses of a permanent resident apply for a K-3 visa? 

No, the K-3 visa is only available to legal spouses of US citizens.

Can I work on a K-3 visa?

As we have mentioned before, K-3 visa holders can apply for a work permit right upon arrival in the US but will need to wait for employment authorization to be approved to work legally. This process takes approximately four months. 

advance parole

It is most practical to apply for employment authorization, a green card, and a travel permit (advance parole) simultaneously, because foreign spouses sometimes need to return to their home country to make other arrangements. 

Green Card application for K-3 and K-4 visas

K-3 and K-4 visa holders must have an approved I-130 petition to be eligible for a Green Card. The Green Card can be applied for at any time, even while the I-130 is pending. This is done with the filing of the I-485.

If you have a K-3 visa, you can only apply for a Green Card based on marriage to the US spouse who applied for your K-3 visa.

If you have a K-4 visa, you can only apply for a Green Card based on the stepparent/stepchild relationship created when your K-3 parent married the US citizen who applied for your K-4 visa.

Conditional permanent residence

If USCIS approves the I-485 petition and the K-3 visa holder has been married to their US spouse for at least 2 years, they will receive a Green Card valid for 10 years.

However, if married to their US spouse for less than 2 years at the time USCIS approves the I-485 petition, the K-3 holder and any K-4 children will obtain conditional permanent resident status. This means that the Green Card will be valid for 2 years.

To remove this condition on residence, K-3 and K-4 visa holders must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within 90 days of the Green Card expiration date. Card.

Should my children travel with me?

Children under the K-4 category may travel to the US with the K-3 visa holder (accompanying them) or travel after, but never before. Separate petitions are not required if the children are accompanied by or join the K-3 visa holder within one year of the date the K-3 visa is issued.

If the children wish to travel beyond the year, they will not be eligible to receive a K-4 visa and separate immigrant visa petitions will be required. If the children already have a valid K-4 visa and the K-3 visa holder has already adjusted their status to permanent resident, the children can still travel to the US on the K-4 visa.

K-3 and K-4 visa attorneys in Los Angeles

K-3 and K-4 visas are an important immigration resource for alien spouses of US citizens. However, there are other alternatives for foreign relatives who want to settle in the United States.

Depending on the circumstances, it is not advisable to opt for the K-3 and K-4 visas when there are other faster options. Married couples are sometimes better served by consular processing for permanent residence .

Contact our office today so that we can study your case carefully and give you an answer according to your needs.


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