The U.S. Congress has created the K3 visa in order to allow married couples to be together while awaiting the time consuming marriage visa process. The K3 visa becomes available to couples after marriage and the initiation of the marriage visa process by filing the form I-130 petition. The following is the process for obtaining a K3 visa.
K3 Visa Meaning
The K3 visa is for the foreign-citizen spouse of a United States citizen. This visa category is designed to decrease the time that a foreign citizen and U.S. citizen are physically separated while waiting for the marriage visa process. Once the foreign-citizen spouse obtains a nonimmigrant K3 visas overseas, they can enter the United States and wait for the approval of the immigrant visa petition.
If you are a U.S. citizen, your foreign spouse may be eligible for a K3 visa if he or she:
- Is married to you;
- Is the beneficiary of a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative that you filed for him or her; and
- Seeks to enter the United States to await USCIS’ decision on the Form I-130.
A child of your foreign spouse may be eligible for a K4 visa if he or she is:
- Under 21 years of age;
- Unmarried; and
- The child of the K3 visa applicant you filed for.
K3 Visa Application
To obtain a K3 visa for your spouse, you (the U.S. citizen) must first file two petitions with USCIS:
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: Submit Form I-130 to the correct USCIS address. To find the correct address, go to the “Where to File” section on the Form I-130 page. You will then receive a Form I-797, Notice of Action, indicating that USCIS has received your Form I-130.
Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e): Submit Form I-129F to the correct USCIS address. To find the correct address, go to the “Where to File” section on the Form I-129F page. You may file Form I-129F together with or after filing Form I-130. If you file Form I-129F after filing Form I-130, include a copy of the Form I-797, Notice of Action, to show that USCIS received your Form I-130. There is no fee if you are filing a Form I-129F for a spouse to obtain a K-3 visa.
To obtain a K4 visa for your spouse’s children, you do not need to file a separate Form I-129F or Form I-130. You must list your spouse’s children on the Form I-129F you filed for your spouse.
Please note, however, that you must file a separate Form I-130 for your spouse’s children before they may apply for a Green Card. In order for you to create an eligible step-parent/step-child relationship, the child must have been under 18 years of age when you and your spouse married.
K3 Visa Requirements
You, the foreign-citizen spouse, (and eligible children applying for K4 visas) will be required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:
- Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application:
- You (and any eligible children applying for K4 visas) must: (1) complete Form DS-160 and (2) print the DS-160 confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
Civil documents – the original(s) (or certified copies) and photocopies of the following:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate for the marriage to the U.S. citizen spouse
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s)
- Police certificates from your present country of residence and all countries where you have lived for 6 months or more since age 16. (Police certificates are also required for accompanying children age 16 or older.)
- Medical examination (vaccinations are optional, see below)
- Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support may be requested)
- Two (2) 2×2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements
- Evidence of relationship with your U.S. citizen spouse
- Payment of fees, as explained below
K3 Visa Fees
Fees are charged for the following services:
- Filing a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130
- Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-160 (required for each K visa applicant)
- Medical examination (required for each K visa applicant; costs vary from post to post)
- Other costs may include translation and photocopying charges, fees for getting the documents required for the visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.), and travel expenses to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
- Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
Please check  US Visa Application Fees – How Much Does a US Visa Cost? for further questions on fees.
If USCIS Approves Form I-130 First or at the Same Time as the Form I-129F
If USCIS approves your Form I-130 before or at the same time as your Form I-129F, your spouse and his or her children will no longer need a K3 or K4 visa. This occurs in the vast majority of cases. When your spouse’s approved Form I-130 reaches the Department of State, an immigrant visa is immediately available to him or her. Your spouse and his or her children then must apply for immigrant visas and seek admission to the United States as lawful permanent residents.
Because K3 and K4 nonimmigrant visas are no longer available to your spouse and his or her children at this point, the K4 child will not be able to immigrate with your spouse unless the child has an approved Form I-130 at the Department of State at that time.
If USCIS Approves Form I-129F First
If your Form I-129F petition is approved before your Form I-130, USCIS will send your petition to the Department of State. To receive a K3 or K4 visa, your spouse must submit a nonimmigrant visa application with the Department of State. Your spouse does not need to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support when applying for the K3 or K4 visa but will need to provide evidence showing that he or she will not become a public charge while in the United States. For more information on the visa application process, please see the Department of State’s Nonimmigrant Visa for a Spouse (K3) webpage.
K3 Visa Status
To check the status of your application please click CEAC Status Visa Check: Check your US visa status online.
If you are granted a K3 visa, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will admit you for a 2-year period.
Both the K3 and K4 visas are automatically authorized to work in the United States.
K3 and K4 visa holders must have an approved Form I-130 to be eligible for a Green Card to become a lawful permanent resident. You may apply for a Green Card at any time (even while the Form I-130 is pending) by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If you have a K-3 visa, you may only apply for a Green Card based on your marriage to the U.S. citizen spouse who petitioned for your K-3 status.
If you have a K4 visa, you may only apply for a Green Card based on the step-parent/step-child relationship created when your K3 parent married the U.S. citizen who petitioned for your K4 visa. You may also benefit from certain age-out protections under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). For more information on CSPA, see the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) webpage.
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The K4 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows the children of a K3 spouse visa holder to enter into the U.S. and await the availability of an immigrant visa.
Yes, it is necessary for them to be married.
The child of the foreign citizen spouse must be:
Under 21 years of age;
The child of the K-3 visa applicant filed for.
What happens if the USCIS approves form I-130 first or at the same time as the form I-129F ?
In this case the K3 and K4 visa will no longer be required.