apply k3 visa

Apply For K3 Visa While I-130 Is Pending

Applying for a spouse visa can be a long and expensive road that brings with it a lot waiting and stress. Every couple I’ve spoken to want to expedite processing of the CR1 spouse visa so they can be together as soon as possible. It may be possible to apply for K3 visa while I-130 petition is pending but there are some restrictions to going this route.

In most cases, after a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident gets married abroad, the next step would be to apply for the spouse visa using form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative.

This starts the process of bringing the foreign spouse to the United States. It can take 12-18 months from start to finish and during this time you will most likely be separated from your partner.

If this sounds unbearable to you, don’t worry! There may be an option of having your foreign spouse wait in the United States while the I-130 petition and CR1 visa is being processed. There is a catch though and we’ll discuss this further down in this post.

Case Example:

Emma married Julio abroad 3 months ago and they’ve recently submitted form I-130 to USCIS. After Emma returned to the U.S. she realized that waiting over a year from her new husband to join her in America was just too difficult.

She decides to submit form I-129F for Julio hoping that it gets approved quickly and he can fly to the United States to wait for his spouse visa to be approved.

What Is A K3 Visa?

The K3 visa is an option for spouses who have an active I-130 petition pending with USCIS. It allows the foreign spouse to enter the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa and wait for the adjudication of their I-130 petition while in the U.S.

Interestingly enough, a K3 visa holder can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and legally work in the United States while their CR1 spouse visa is being processed abroad.

You can see why this visa would be very valuable to many immigrants living overseas. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Well here’s the catch that I was talking about:

The K3 visa is very counter-intuitive. I’ve seen many cases where the K3 visa was approved on the same day as the I-130 which defeats the purpose of applying for the K3 visa in the first place. The processing times for the K3 visa is ridiculously long but it wasn’t always this way.

Something has changed recently where USCIS rarely approves the K3 visa before the I-130 processing is complete.

Should you even apply for the K3 visa?

This will depend on whether you feel that’s it’s worth it in your situation. There is no guarantee that the K3 visa will be approved before the I-130 petition is processed but it could be. Which is why many couples choose to apply for the K3 visa as a way to hedge their bets.

Who Is Eligible To Apply For K3 Visa?

To be eligible for the K3 visa, you must be married to a U.S. citizen and currently live abroad with a pending I-130 petition. If you meet these basic requirements, congrats! You can apply for the K3 visa using form I-129F.

Form I-129F is the same form used by fiance’s of U.S. citizens but it can also be used by spouses who wish to wait in the U.S. while their spouse visa is being processed.

K3 Visa Eligibility:

  • You are legally married to a U.S. citizen.
  • You have a family based I-130 petition filed by the U.S. citizen spouse.
  • You want to enter the U.S. to await the approval of your green card petition.

K3 Visa Benefits:

  • K3 visa usually has a shorter waiting period compared to the CR1 or IR1 visa.
  • You may be eligible to work in the U.S. if you apply and are approved for a work permit (EAD card)
  • Your kids under 21 can follow you to the U.S. on K4 visas if they were included on form I-129F

The K3/K4 visa route can be very beneficial to those of you who want to live in the U.S. during the processing time for the spouse visa. This gives you the benefit of being with your U.S. spouse while waiting for the visa to be approved.

K3 Visa Fee = $535.00

How To Apply For K3 Visa

One thing you should know is that the K3 visa isn’t a standalone application. It piggybacks on the I-130 petition that you file for your foreign spouse. So, the first step is to file the spouse petition and then complete form I-129F for the K3 visa.

If your foreign spouse also has children, then they would be applying for K4 visas.

Step 1: File Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative

This is step is required. You must complete form I-130 for your spouse and children that will be immigrating to the U.S.. You much file a separate I-130 for each relative that you will be sponsoring.

Once your petition is accepted by USCIS, you will receive the first notice of action (NOA1) in the mail. Keep this letter somewhere safe because you will likely need it in the future. It will include your receipt number which will also be your case number.

Step 2: File Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance

After receiving the first notice of action (NOA1) from USCIS for form I-130, you should complete and send form I-129F to USCIS. Be sure to include your receipt number on the form so they know it’s connected to your spouses visa application.

It’s important to also list all of the children that your spouse will bring to the U.S.. on the form. If you forget to include a child, they will not be eligible for a K4 visa and therefore not be able to immigrate to the U.S. while the I-130 is pending.

If USCIS approves form I-129F, they will forward it to the consulate abroad for further processing.

Step 3: Schedule Your Interview At The Consulate

Depending on the processing times for the CR1 or K3 visa, you may be able schedule your interview within a few months of submitting your petition. Remember, even when applying for the K3 visa, you are still required to complete an interview and medical exam before the visa is issued.

The main reason that the K3 visa is beneficial is when the I-130 petition is taking too long to process.

Be sure to gather as much evidence of bona fide relationship as possible to bring to the interview.

  • Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
  • Foreign passport (valid for 6 months)
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce or death certificate(s) for any previous spouses
  • Police certificate for foreign spouse (all countries you’ve lived in for 6 months or more since age 16)
  • Seal medical exam results
  • Evidence of financial support (form of I-134, Affidavit of Support)
  • Two 2×2 photographs
  • Evidence of relationship with the U.S. spouse.
  • Payment of fees.

Step 4: Complete The Medical Exam

After you interview is scheduled, you should then set up a day and time for your medical examination. You will be required to go to a USCIS approved physician and cannot use your own family doctor.

The medical exam is similar to an annual physical.

You will be asked to bring your vaccination records and provide details about your past medical history. The doctor will check your vitals, perform an x-ray and take your blood to testing.

Most common illness and diseases will not make you inadmissible but there are a few diseases that require that you are treated before your can fly to the U.S.

After your medical exam is complete, you will pay the fee and your results will either be mailed directly to the U.S. consulate or it will be sent to you in a sealed envelope. If you are sent the packet, make sure that you DO NOT open it. You must bring the sealed envelope to the interview.

Benefits and Limitations of K3/K4 Visa

Although the K3 visa isn’t as popular to file for as it use to be, it can still be an option for some people. But, there are a few limitations on this type of visa and I’ve explained some of these in detail below.

  • Benefits of the K-3 visa:
    • It allows the foreign spouse to travel to the United States. Once admitted, K-3 non-immigrants can apply to adjust their status to permanent residency at any time.
    • Eligible to work in the U.S. by filing for EAD form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
    • K-4 visa holders (the minor children of the K-3 holder) can apply for permanent residency after a Form I-130 has been filed on their behalf by the citizen petitioner.
  • Limitations of the K3 visa:
    • K-3 and K-4 visa holders are allowed to live in the United States for up to 2 years. If, after two years, the I-130 has not yet been processed, holders may apply for additional time in two-year immigrants until the I-130 is processed.
    • When the I-130 is processed, an immigrant visa immediately becomes available to you and the K3 is not longer valid. At this point, the K-3 holder must immigrate as a lawful permanent resident.
    • Any K-4 children must have approved I-130s to be able to immigrate as a permanent resident. Due to this requirement, the U.S. citizen petitioner should file a separate I-130 for each K-4 child with the K-3’s I-130 so that the children will be able to immigrate legally when the K-3’s I-130 is processed.

Final Thoughts: Apply For K3 Visa

Applying for a K3 visa while your I-130 petition may be a great option for you if you would rather wait in the U.S. for your green card application to be processed. If the beneficiary will be bringing children with them, they should be included on form I-129F so that they are eligible for K4 visas.

Although there are serious benefits to the K3 visa, there are also some drawbacks. It’s important to know that approval for the K3 visa is not guaranteed and in many cases, the I-130 petition will be approved long before the I-129F is reviewed.

Some couples think that submitting the K3 application is similar to expediting their case but it’s not. Processing times will vary depending on the filing office you sent the application to and the country of the beneficiary.

Immigrating to the United States is an exciting prospect but you really do need a lot patience and a strong relationship. Not only is  along distance marriage difficult but the address strain of dealing with USCIS can really test your relationship so be sure to work on your communication and know that the wait will be over soon.

Have you applied for the K3 visa? Were you approved before your I-130 petition was processed? Let me know in the comments below.



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