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 General OutlineBack to Index
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 Guide".
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:
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 Consulate.
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