K Visa FAQ - K1 Fiance Visa, K3 Spousal Visa and other Marriage Based Immigration Questions
A Complete guide for obtaining a K1 and K3 (plus derivitive) Visa, immigrating, and becoming a US Citizen.
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Section 9.0...The K3/K4 Process
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On December 21, 2000 the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (LIFE
Act) was signed into law. One of the provisions this legislation is
the creation of K3 and K4 non-immigrant visas for spouses of US Citizens
who are outside the US, and the children of those foreign spouses. These
visas were created to allow reunification of families of US Citizens,
by allowing the spouse and children to enter the United States as non-immigrants,
and filing for Adjustment of Status inside the United States, rather
than waiting for Consular immigrant visa processing. Provisions for
processing for the K3/K4 became effective on August 14, 2001 after coordination
required between USCIS (INS) and the State Department.
>> Before you begin be sure to read the K-3 "Step-by-Step
Whereas the K1/K2 visa process is fairly straightforward, the K3/K4
is not as simple. It is important for the US Citizen to be informed
and attentive to detail, because there are several opportunities to
make mistakes and omissions which could result in unpleasant surprises.
Immigrating to the United States via the K3/K4 is not such an automatic
process as is experienced by the K1/K2.
Briefly, the K3/K4 process is as follows:
A. The US Citizen files an I-130 petition for the foreign spouse.
B. USCIS (INS) issues a receipt (I-797) acknowledging filing of
the I-130 petition.
C. The US Citizen files an I-129F petition, using the I-797 receipt
as "proof of filing an immigrant petition". All children of the foreign
spouse will be listed on this petition. The I-129F is sent to the Service Center where the underlying I-130 petition is currently pending. At this point, the "track" of the K3/K4
process becomes similar to the current processing for K1/K2 fiance(e)
D. When the petition is approved, it is sent to the NVC for processing
and then the appropriate Consulate is notified and processing for
the K3/K4 non-immigrant visa is begun, including medical, police check,
I-134 affidavit of support, and Consular interview. The fee will be
the same as the current K1 fiance(e) visa.
E. The K3 visa is issued to the spouse, the K4 to the minor children,
they go to the United States.
F. The K3 spouse and K4 children file the I-485 for Adjustment of
Status, either immediately or when the I-130 petition is approved.
The new K visa will be issued for an effective period of 2 years,
with multiple entries permitted, and provision to extend the visa
beyond 2 years. The State Department has indicated that in K3/K4 cases,
that the USCIS (INS) will retain the approved I-130 petition. This
means if he K3/K4 visa holder wishes to obtain an immigrant visa at
a Consulate, they need to notify that Consulate to begin the process,
after which the Consulate will request the approved I-130 petition
from the USCIS (INS). The USCIS (INS) seems to expect that most K3/K4
folks will apply for AOS from inside the United States, but due to
long processing times at some local offices, it is very possible some
folks will wish to opt for Consular processing after they arrive in
the United States.
Note about the I-130 approval - In some cases the I-130
may be approved prior to the K-3 being processed. There are certain
advantages if this happens such as receiving an Immigrant Visa instead
of a K3. Please read the IR1/CR1
Guide if your I-130 is approved during the K3 Process to find
out what you can do.
The K visa for spouses *may* provide a major benefit for older stepchildren.
Until now, a US Citizen would file an I-130 for the foreign spouse, and
separate I-130 petitions for each child or step-child. Stepchildren would
only be eligible if the marriage took place before the stepchild's 18th
birthday. The revised I-129F will automatically include all children under
21, with no separate petition required, removing a major disparity between
current K1/K2 and spousal immigrant visa processes. However, Although
a separate I-130 petition is not required for the children to obtain a
K4 visa, an approved I-130 petition is required before they may be approved
for Adjustment of Status to permanent resident. The I-130 petition still
states the U.S. Citizen petitioner may not file for a stepchild, unless
the marriage took place before the stepchild's 18th birthday. This detail
must be addressed, in order to prevent an older stepchild from moving
here on a K4 visa, yet being denied approval of the I-130 petition.
Although the K3/K4 visa may allow the spouse and children into the
US faster, they may now undergo the Adjustment process in the US, rather
than entering the US with Permanent Resident status. This means
filing for Adjustment of Status and work authorization, and paying the
fees associated with these applications. It may mean problems with non-resident
tuition fees at colleges, and other minor and major headaches experienced
by current fiance(e) visa holders, including the sometimes nerve-racking
experience of getting an older child adjusted to Permanent Resident
status before turning 21.
The "basis" for Adjustment is the same as for current K1/K2 visa
holders, who cannot change status to anything except Permanent Resident
based on marriage to the original US petitioner. In other words, the
spousal K visa holder will still need to be married to the US Citizen
spouse (who filed the I-129F) at the time of the Adjustment interview.
The new K visa procedures allow the US Citizen and foreign spouse to
bypass long I-130 petition approval times, and visa/affidavit of support
processing steps at the National Visa Center, but will not decrease
the time required to process and issue the new K3/K4 visa at the US
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This FAQ is located at http://www.visajourney.com/faq/k1faq.htm