What is the K-3/K-4 Visa?
The K-3 visa category is available to spouses of U.S. citizens waiting abroad to come to the U.S. to join their U.S. citizen spouse while a spousal petition is pending. Before the creation of the K-3 visa category, spouses of U.S. citizens had to wait abroad until the I-130 spousal petition (filed in the U.S.) was approved by the INS and then forwarded to the U.S. consulate for consular processing. The time between the initial filing of the I-130 and the visa interview could often take over a year.
With the K-3 visa, the foreign spouse is issued a visa to enter the U.S. while awaiting approval of the I-130 petition without having to remain abroad while the I-130 is being processed.
Who is Eligible?
A person may receive a K-3 visa if that person:
has a valid marriage with a citizen of the United States;
has a relative petition (Form I-130) filed by the U.S. citizen spouse for the person;
seeks to enter the United States to await the approval of the petition and subsequent lawful permanent resident status, and,
has an approved Form I-129, Petition for Alien Fiancé, forwarded to the American consulate abroad where the alien wishes to apply for the K-3/K-4 visa. The consulate must be in the country in which the marriage to the U.S. citizen took place if the United States has a consulate which issues immigrant visas in that country. If the marriage took place in the United States, the designated consulate is the one with jurisdiction over the current residence of the alien spouse,
A person may receive a K-4 visa, if that person is under 21 years of age and is the unmarried child of an alien eligible to be a K-3.
Once in the U.S. in K-3 or K-4 status, you are eligible to apply for a work permit while the cases are pending. Keep in mind that you do not need to apply for a work permit once you adjust to permanent resident status. As a lawful permanent resident, you should receive a permanent resident card that will prove that you have a right to live and work in the United States permanently.
Travel Outside the United States
If you are in K-3 or K-4 status, you may travel using your unexpiredK-3/K-4 nonimmigrant visa to travel outside of the United States and return, even if you are applying for adjustment of status simultaneously.
When done correctly, the K-3/K-4 visa category can significantly reduce the time that spouses are separated while waiting for immigration status. The K-3/K-4 visa category is a relatively new visa category; therefore, you may wish to consult with an Immigration Attorney with experience with the K-3/K-4 visa for assistance with your case.
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