NOTE: For a comparison with the fiancé visa process, read “What is the Difference Between the K-1 and K-3 Visa?”
The K-3 Marriage Visa Process
The K-3 marriage visa is essentially a variation on the K-1 fiancé visa. It allows immigrating spouses of U.S. citizens to enter into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa while awaiting approval of their Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Since some people may be approved to come to the United States faster on a K-1 fiancé visa, Congress created the K-3 visa to shorten the time and physical separation between people that are already married. With the K-3 visa, it may be possible for you and your spouse to begin living together in the U.S. much sooner.
Despite the underlying purpose of the K-3 Visa—i.e., faster processing times—United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ironically processes many spouses through the standard Immigrant Visa process more quickly than K-3 nonimmigrant applicants.
This may seem to undermine the whole purpose of the K-3 Visa, but the K-3 Visa may still benefit you in your situation. While Immigrant Visas are sometimes issued faster it is not always the case. You can always compare processing times and choose between whichever process is fastest.
Am I Eligible for a K-3 Visa?
To be eligible for a K-3 marriage visa, you must:
- Be married to a United States citizen
- Have a pending Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
Applying for a K-3 Visa
Not only is the K-3 marriage visa a variation of the K-1 fiancé visa, but they both use the same application, Form I-129F. To apply for a K-3 visa, you must first file your Form I-130 petition. Only after USCIS sends you confirmation that they have received your Form I-130 petition may you then send in your Form I-129F application.
Currently there is no filing fee for an I-129F petition for K-3 Visa applicants. You should send your Form I-129F and a copy of your Form I-797 receipt to the USCIS service center in Dallas, TX. The address is:
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
Keep in mind that addresses and filing fees are subject to change. Always check with www.uscis.gov before filing any petition.
I Submitted My K-3 Visa Petition, Now What?
Once USCIS approves your I-129F application, it is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is responsible for processing your application and obtaining a criminal background check on your U.S. spouse. If both your Form I-130 and Form I-129F are approved by the USCIS or your Form I-130 is approved first, the NVC may close your K-3 Visa case because you no longer need it.
If the NVC receives your approved Form I-129F first, it will forward it to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the country in which you were married. The U.S. Consulate or Embassy will send you instructions on finalizing your application. You will be required to undergo a medical examination and an interview.
Do I Have to Undergo a Medical Examination?
All K-3 visa applicants must undergo a medical examination. Before your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you must complete a medical examination by an authorized physician. Instructions on how to schedule your medical examination and information about authorized physicians will be sent to you by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
During your examination, you are not required to get any vaccinations for the K-3 visa. However, it is highly recommended that you get any U.S. required vaccinations at this time because you will be required to get the vaccinations when you apply to become a permanent resident. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone.
What Will Happen During My Interview?
During your interview, your fingerprints will be taken and a criminal background check will be performed. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will provide you with specific information about your interview and will advise you of any documents you will need to bring with you. The documents you will be required to bring may include:
- The confirmation page from a completed Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
- A Valid Passport
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Divorce or death certificates
- Police Certificates
- Proof of Medical Examination
- Evidence of Financial Support
My K-3 Marriage Visa Application Was Approved
Once your K-3 application is approved, you may enter the United States. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate officer will give you a sealed packet which contains your K-3 visa and any additional documents you provided. Do NOT open the sealed packet. When you enter the United States, the immigration officer will open the packet.
While in the United States, you may begin your adjustment of status (green card) application even if your Form I-130 has not been approved yet. You may also obtain employment authorization if you file a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
Will My K-3 Visa Expire?
Your K-3 visa is good for two years. However, your visa will expire automatically in 30 days if any of the following happens:
- USCIS denies your Form I-130 petition
- USCIS denies your Form I-485 or immigrant visa application
- You obtain a divorce or annulment from your U.S. spouse