K-3 and K-4 visas

Spouses and underage children of U.S. citizens receive K-3 and K-4 visas, respectively, as a non-immigrant. The purpose of these types of visas for the United States is to prevent a citizen and his family from being separated while waiting for a response to their immigrant visa applications.

Once in the US, the spouse and children of the American citizen can adjust their status to that of legal permanent resident. The application for both visas is made in the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

To apply for the K-3 and K-4 visa, the US spouse must previously file an immigrant visa petition. This is what is known as an American residence by family based immigration petition.


Immigration lawyers in Los Angeles at Lluis Law are specialists in this type of visa. Through more than 40 years of service in the Los Angeles area, we have helped hundreds of immigrant families. We speak Spanish and English,. Call now and you will get a free consultation.

What are the K-3 and K-4 visas?

The K-3 nonimmigrant visa is granted to the foreign spouses of citizens of the United States. While the K-4 visa serves so that their children can also travel and stay in the USA legally.

Foreigners who marry Americans in another country require this visa to enter the United States. Then they must process an immigrant visa that allows them to obtain the Green Card and, subsequently, become a U.S. citizenship.

The application for the K-3 and K-4 visa is made from the country where the couple married. Unless the foreign spouse and children are already in the United States. In that case you will need the so-called consular processing to be able to adjust your legal status.

The help of a good immigration lawyer for this administrative procedure is crucial. The idea is that the process is carried out in accordance with the Nationality and Immigration law and is successful.

Only an experienced attorney ensures that things are done correctly and no objections are raised for lack of documents.

After K-3 and K-4 visas are approved, holders can remain in the United States legally. Meanwhile, the processing of immigrant visas that are pending approval by USCIS is moving forward.

How to process the K3 visa?

The procedure for processing the K3 visa begins with the filing of Form I-130 by the US spouse. You can also file Form I-129F , if you are not married yet, to get the K-1 fiancé visa.

Previously, couples had to remain separated while fixing the legal status of the foreign spouse. The U.S. Congress resolved this by creating this category of temporary nonimmigrant visa to bring the family closer together.

If after filing Form I-130 with USCIS, you file Form I-129F, you must include a copy of Form I-797. The Notice of Action serves to demonstrate receipt of Form I-130 by USCIS.

Form I-129F for spouse’s K-3 visa application does not have a filing fee. For the K-4 visa (spouse’s children), you don’t have to file I-129 or I-130 separately. Simply, include the spouse’s children on the same Form I-129F filed to apply to the foreign spouse.

For purposes of approving the eligibility of the stepparent / stepchild relationship, a condition applies. Children must be under the age of 18 at the time the applicant and his or her spouse were married.

An important fact is that if USCIS approves the application (Form I-130), before or in parallel with Form I-129F, for both the spouse and their children, the K-3 or K-4 visa is unnecessary.

This is because at the time Form I-130 is approved, an immigrant visa is already available. In which case, the next step is for the spouse and their children to apply for immigrant visas and permanent residence.

K-3 and K-4 visas for spouses and children of American citizens

How to apply for a K3 visa?

After meeting the eligibility requirements and filing the forms, the U.S. spouse needs to attach the following documents:

  • Proof of citizenship. Either with a passport of the US citizen, or with a birth / naturalization certificate.
  • Copy of passport of the foreign spouse.
  • Legal marriage certification. The document must be translated into English by a certified interpreter.
  • If you are divorced or a widower / to present evidence (divorce certificate, death certificate, annulment document).
  • I-94 registration of arrival / departure of the foreign spouse (if you have ever received this document).
  • Passport photograph of the US citizen and foreign spouse.
  • Notice of Action (Form I-797) or what is the same receipt for delivery of Form I-130.
  • When you have all the documents in order and fill out Form I-129F, it is advisable to make a copy before filing them.

After USCIS approves Form I-129F, the applicant receives a letter from the embassy by email. The correspondence indicates the date and time when the interview of the foreign spouse will take place. The documents required by the embassy for the day of the interview will also be indicated in the letter.

Then you must file through the State Department website, Form DS-160. There you will be asked to upload a passport-type photograph as well. At the end of the process, the system will produce a printed page that must be entered on the day of the interview.

Interview at the embassy

For the interview at the embassy or consulate, the foreign applicant must bring:

  • Legal marriage certification.
  • Valid passport of the requesting spouse.
  • Birth certificate of the foreign applicant.
  • Criminal record or police authorization 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 State Department.
  • Family Support Declaration (Form I-134).
  • Recent sponsoring spouse tax returns.
  • Evidence of the marriage relationship. For this you can bring copies of the documents submitted by the US spouse to USCIS. Photographs of the wedding and any other evidence that proves the validity of the marriage can also work.
  • 2 passport photos of the applicant.
  • Fee payment of US $ 265. It is generally paid the same day as the interview. However, it is advisable to carefully review the instructions in this regard because they may vary from country to country.

K-3 and K-4 visa benefits

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

  • Enter the USA and await USCIS’s response to the request made by the US spouse.
  • You can reduce the waiting time for foreign spouses and their children to enter the U.S.
  • After being admitted, the holder of this visa can apply for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence.
  • Also K-3 and K-4 visa beneficiaries can process an employment authorization (Form I-765).

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

The K-3 and K-4 visa has an expiration period of 2 years. However, their holders can apply to USCIS for a visa extension for another 2 more years. As long as the visa award requested by the sponsoring family member is pending.

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

  • For denial of the visa petition through Form I-130.
  • Due to denial of the application submitted by the holder of the K-3 non-immigrant visa through Form I-485.
  • 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.

Who is eligible for a K-3 visa?

U.S. citizens whose spouses are aliens may be eligible to obtain a K-3 visa. The conditions are as follows:

  • Be duly married to the foreign spouse.
  • To have applied to the USCIS for the foreign relative through Form I-130.
  • The Spouse wishes to enter the USA to await a response from USCIS on Form I-130.

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

  • Be under 21 years old and single.
  • Be a child of the K-3 visa applicant.

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

No. This visa is available only to the legal spouses of US citizens.

Can I work with a K-3 visa?

After the K3 visa is approved, the holder can safely travel to the United States. However, until the immigrant visa is approved, some limitations remain for this visa.

Recipients of a K-3 visa can apply for a work permit upon arrival in the United States. But they must wait for that employment authorization to be approved to be able to work legally in the country.

This process usually takes about four months. The most practical thing is to apply for the employment authorization, the residence card and a travel permit (advance parole), simultaneously. Sometimes foreign spouses need to return to their home country to make other arrangements.

In this way, the applicant will gain time to adjust their immigration status. In addition, it will allow you to advance in the process of obtaining the Permanent Residence Card (Green Card).

Los Angeles K-3 and K-4 visas attorneys

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

Our Lluis Law immigration attorneys advise that you review all of your options before beginning this process. Contact us, we can explain what other immigration resources are available.

Depending on the circumstances, it is not advisable to opt for K-3 and K-4 visas when there are other faster options. Apart from that you can save the additional payment fee of US $ 265. Sometimes it is better for married couples to carry out the permanent residence process through the consular process.

For practical purposes, the procedure takes the same time as applying for a K-3 visa and allows you to shorten some steps. With consular processing, the foreign spouse arrives in the USA with the approved Green Card. So you can work, study, travel abroad again, without the need for further formalities.

So it’s best to get good advice from the best Los Angeles immigration attorneys, before applying for any visa. We can assist you by phone or, if you prefer, you can come to our offices located in the city center.

Our firm is known by being highly efficient, honest and friendly with Hispanic and other foreign clients.