When a U.S. citizen marries a national of a foreign country, there is often a physical separation that takes place upon return to the U.S. This is because of the fact that applying for an immigrant visa is often a long process. Because of this, many people choose to apply for the K3 visa to allow their spouses to join them in the U.S. while they wait for their immigrant visa to process.
K3 Visa Requirements
The requirements needed to qualify for a K3 visa are twofold. This is because, in order to apply, the foreign spouse must first have a petition for an immigrant visa currently in the processing stage with the USCIS. Therefore, your spouse needs to have already met the requirements for the initial immigrant visa.
As long as an immigrant visa is being processed, the requirements for a K3 visa are as follows:
- You, the U.S. citizen in the relationship, must file the I-130 petitio
n on your spouse’s behalf.
- Your spouse is a foreign national residing outside the country that you have legally married. Cohabitation does not qualify.
What is the Application Process?
If your spouse meets the above requirements, you can proceed with the visa application process. This timeline is very similar to the process of obtaining a K1 visa.
- Firstly, an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative must already be awaiting approval with the USCIS before your spouse is considered eligible.
- When you, the U.S. citizen, receive notification that the petition is being processed, you must then file an I-129F on your spouse’s behalf.
- When the USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center and then on to the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country that your marriage took place. Your spouse must go there to apply for the visa, submit to a background check, and participate in an interview with an immigration officer. An approved medical exam and a biometrics screening will also take place.
- If your application is approved, then your spouse will be issued a K3 visa. He or she can then travel to the U.S. and stay in the country until the I-130 petition has been either approved or rejected.
At the U.S. port of entry, your spouse may be given another background check as well as a second interview. Biometrics may also be taken again to reinforce the information given at the consulate or embassy.
It is important to understand that if the USCIS approves your I-130 petition before your I-129F, your K3 case will be closed and you will need to continue with the process according to the petition for your immigrant visa.
What Should My Spouse Bring to the Interview?
In order to ensure that the interview goes as smoothly as possible, make sure you, the foreign spouse, bring the following items to the designated consulate or embassy:
- The completed and printed DS-160 application forms for you and your dependents.
- A passport that will remain valid for at least six months after your visa validation period.
- Copies of both your birth and marriage certificates
- Divorce or death certificates to prove that no legal attachments exist between you and any previous spouses.
- A police certificate from every country that you have lived in for 6 months or more since the age of 16.
- The documents for the approved medical exam
- Proof that you and your dependents can either support yourselves or can be supported by the U.S. citizen spouse. This proof should be a completed I-134 Affidavit of Support.
- Two photographs according to these guidelines.
- Proof of your relationship with the spouse who is the U.S. citizen.
- Fee payments
Be sure to review your documents with a qualified immigration attorney. This will help ensure that you are not missing any information and are on track for an optimal timeline.
What is the K3 Visa Fee?
Everyone has a unique immigration situation that influences the cost of their visa and filing fees. You need to take traveling cost, the medical exam, and certificate fees into account when applying. Your lawyer can help you determine what financial obstacles you may encounter.
Aside from the variables, here are the basic fees.
- I-130 filing- $535
- I-129 filing- $535
- Biometric services fee- $85
K3 vs K1 Visa: Which is Better?
Because the K1 and K3 visa classifications are so similar, many people who are planning to get married have trouble deciding whether to marry overseas or wait until they reach the U.S. While your immigration lawyer will be able to better assess your situation, here are some advantages and disadvantages of each option.
If you decide to postpone your marriage until both you and your fiancé(e) are in the U.S. together, your fiancé(e) will be able to remain in the country until their Green Card is issued. With this option, you will not be required to file an I-130 in order to bring your fiancé(e) into the U.S. This can make this path less expensive depending on your situation.
With the K1 you and your fiancé(e) will be able to spend 90 days together in the U.S. before marrying. Because the K3 is only for married couples, this is not an option.
The disadvantage is that this visa can easily be fraudulently misused, so it may demand a strict interview and application process to prove the legitimacy of your relationship.
Choosing to get married outside the U.S. and entering the country through the K3 visa involves filing two separate petitions. This could result in more cost to you and a greater possibility of delay.
However, the interview process may not be as strict since your marriage certificate is usually enough to prove that your relationship is bona fide. Also, once your spouse enters the country, they are granted legal U.S. residence until the I-130 has been approved.
It is important to note that if the I-130 petition is rejected, your spouse will have 30 days to return to his or her home country before being considered “out of status”. This could seriously impact future attempts to enter the U.S.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Here at SGM Law Group, our dedicated immigration lawyers are highly experienced helping people with K class visas. If you are deciding which route to take or need guidance to make sure that all of the documents are in order, we are here to help.
Keep families together is our specialty. To help you avoid common pitfalls and ensure the best plan for success, our attorneys will work alongside you every step of the way. You can contact us to discover if you qualify for a free consultation with our expert attorneys.