The K-3 Visa Processing Timeline

A blank K-3 Visa ApplicationInterested in the K-3 Visa? The K-3 visa allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States with a temporary legal status while waiting to obtain a green card. This is designed for immigrants who are already legally married to a U.S. citizen but who have not yet applied for permanent residence. Learn more about the process for obtaining a K-3 Visa and how a immigration attorney can assist you in securing one.

K-3 Eligibility

As mentioned, the K-3 visa was made for couples who are already legally married (often outside the United States), in the event that the expat spouse is not yet a permanent resident. That said, the K-3 Visa is eligible for spouses who meet the following requirements:

  • The applicant must be the legal spouse of a U.S. citizen. (The K-3 visa is not available to spouses of U.S. green card holders.)
  • The applicant must currently reside in a country outside the United States.
  • The U.S. citizen spouse must have already filed a family sponsorship form (Form I-130) that is currently pending with USCIS.
  • The adjusted gross income on the U.S. citizen spouse’s most recent tax return must be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines in order to qualify as the financial sponsor. If they are unable to meet this requirement, a joint sponsor must file an “affidavit of support.”
  • If the applicant has biological or adopted children who will also travel to the United States on a K-4 visa, the children must be unmarried and under the age of 21.

The K-3 Visa Application: Form I-129F

A man filling out a k3 visa application on his computerIf all the above eligibility requirements have been met, the U.S. citizen spouse must then fill out Form I-129F and file it with USCIS. The purpose of this form is to prove the validity of the relationship. As such, the following supporting documents are required with the completed form as evidence:

Once the form has been completed and signed, copies of all required documents should be attached to it, including:

  • The U.S. citizen spouse’s passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate, as proof of citizenship.
  • The applicant spouse’s passport.
  • Legal marriage certificate with certified English translation.
  • Proof of termination of any prior marriages (divorce decree, annulment document, or death certificate).
  • I-94 arrival/departure record, if the applicant spouse has ever received one from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
  • One passport-style photograph of the U.S. citizen spouse and one passport-style photograph of the applicant spouse.
  • Receipt notice for the Form I-130 (itself technically called the Form I-797).

Notes: There is no filing fee for I-129F petitions designated for spouses.

Typically, within 30 days after the Form I-129F is filed, the U.S. citizen spouse will receive a receipt notice. This indicates that the package has been received by USCIS and is being processed. Processing times will vary depending on which USCIS service center is handling the case, however the average time is 6–9 months. During that time, a Request for Evidence (RFE) may be issued, in the event that the USCIS requires more information. Once the petition is approved, the U.S. citizen spouse will receive an approval notice.

Side-note: The F-129F Processing Time

As mentioned, the processing of I-129F forms for spouses takes about 6-9 months on average, which is about the same amount of time it takes the USCIS to approve the marriage green card application. Because of this lengthy processing time — caused, in part, by immigration agencies complex and antiquated procedures — many couples find it easier to simply apply for a marriage-based green card instead. This saves them from having to pay the visa filing fee of $265, as well as substantial time in the process.

To learn more about the K-3 visa processing time and see if you’re eligible for a marriage-based green card, contact a professional immigration attorney today.

Next Steps: DS-160 and the Visa Interview

An approved K3 visa with passportOnce a Form I-129F has been approved by the USCIS, the foreign spouse will be notified by the U.S. embassy in their home country. This will provide information about the date, location and list of required documents for their visa interview.

Prior to the interview, the sponsored fiancé must complete the State Department’s online DS-160 form (the “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). The form must be filed electronically and the confirmation page must be printed and brought to the visa interview.

The State Department also requires the following documents be brought to the visa interview:

  • Legal marriage certificate
  • Valid, unexpired passport for the applicant spouse
  • Birth certificate for the applicant spouse
  • Police clearance for the applicant spouse, obtained from all countries of residence of more than six months since the age of 16
  • Sealed medical exam for the applicant spouse (obtained through a physician abroad, authorized by the Department of State)
  • Sponsor’s affidavit of support (Form I-134)
  • Sponsoring spouse’s most recent tax returns
  • Proof of relationship (for example, a copy of the pending Form I-130 package, along with wedding photographs or any other proof that the marriage is valid).
  • Two passport-style photographs of the applicant spouse.

The visa interview takes place at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the sponsored fiancé’s home country, usually about 4-6 weeks after the embassy’s initial notice. The State Department’s visa filing fee of $265 is usually paid at the interview—however it’s wise to review specific instructions regarding time and place of payment, included in the embassy’s interview notice, as it can vary by home country.

The interviewing officer will typically make a decision on the case either the same day of the interview or shortly thereafter. If they need additional evidence, they will request that it be submitted directly to the U.S. consulate. Upon receiving the K-3 visa, the spouse may then travel to the United States.

Get Help From a Professional Immigration Attorney

Applying for a K-3 visa is a long and complicated process, requiring a thorough understanding of complex form requirements and filing guidelines. Neglecting these rules could result in failing to properly file the necessary paperwork, resulting in delays, or worse, the termination of your visa application. Fortunately, the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi have spent countless hours securing K-3 Visas for hundreds of clients. Contact us today and learn more about what Johnson & Masumi can do for you!

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