K-3 Visa for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

K-3 Visa

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K-3 visas are available for spouses of U.S. citizens who are waiting for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to be approved and enter the United States as nonimmigrants.

U.S. citizen is called “Petitioner”, foreign spouse applying for a K-3 visa is called “Beneficiary”.

The K-3 visa has the following requirements:

  • The beneficiary is married to a U.S. citizen and the marriage if valid;
  • The petitioner has filed, or is concurrently filing, a Form I-130;
  • The same U.S. citizen petitioner who files Form I-130 must file Form I-129F.

K-3 Visa Application Steps:

  1. Filing Form I-130;
  2. Filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e);
  3. Approval of Form I-129F form by USCIS;
  4. National Visa Center processing;
  5. Interview at a U.S. Embassy;
  6. If the beneficiary is eligible, they receive a K-3 nonimmigrant visa;
  7. Entry to the United States on K-3 visa;
  8. Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in the U.S.

K-4 Visa for Children

The K-4 visa is available to unmarried minor children (under 21) of a K-3 visa holder.

Important: a K-4 visa can be issued only within one year from the date of the issuance of the K-3 visa to the principal immigrant.

After one year the U.S. citizen petitioner or the beneficiary (if qualified), must file an immediate relative or second preference petition for the K-3 child. 

No extensions will be granted regardless of the circumstances.

K-4 children do not require a separate petition from the U.S. citizen petitioner and must be listed on Form I-129F.

K-4 visa holders are not given the benefit of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) age-out protection for purposes of entering on the K-4 visa.

However, the Child Status Protection Act age-out protection is available for stepchild of a U.S. citizen if the U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-130.

Keep in mind that a petitioner’s prior convictions for engaging in violence or sexual offenses against a minor will be disclosed by USCIS to the beneficiary and such offenses may lead to the denial of the K-3 visa application.

Pros and Cons of K-3 Visas

The K-3 visa is rarely used by applicants anymore. 

During the COVID pandemic, K-3 and K-1 visa applicants found themselves at a disadvantage because U.S. embassies prioritized immediate relative immigrant visa petitions (Forms I-130).

A big disadvantage for K-3 visa applicants is the necessity to adjust status in the U.S. and inability to work in the U.S. until an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is approved.

Unlike K-3 visa holders, those who entered the United States on immigrant visas don’t need to file Form I-485 and are authorized to work upon entry.

If you are unsure which method of entry is better for you, you can schedule a free consultation with our immigration attorney.

K-3 Visa Checklist of Required Documents

The following forms and documents must be submitted to USCIS with the K-3 petition:

Type of document

Examples of acceptable documents

Who provides it

Immigration form

  • Completed and signed I-129F Petition for Alien Spouse


Proof of U.S. citizenship

One of the following:

  • Copy of a U.S. birth certificate;
  • Copy of an original Certificate of Naturalization;
  • Copy of an original Certificate of Citizenship;
  • Copy of a Form FS-240, Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States;
  • Copy of an unexpired U.S. passport or passport card issued with a validity period of at least five years; or
  • A statement executed by a U.S. consular officer certifying that you are a U.S. citizen and the bearer of a currently valid U.S. passport.


Form I-797C

  • A copy of the Form I-797C, Notice of Action, for the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed on behalf of the beneficiary spouse, unless the I-129F is being filed concurrently with the I-130 Petition.


Proof of the termination of previous marriage(s)

  • Divorce decree, 
  • Annulment, or 
  • Death certificate issued by a civil authority

Petitioner and Beneficiary

Proof of marriage registration

  • Marriage certificate

Petitioner and Beneficiary

Passport-style photographs

  • One 2-inch by 2-inch color passport-style photograph of the petitioner and one of the beneficiary, each taken within 30 days of filing the petition

Petitioner and Beneficiary

Legal name change

  • Marriage certificate
  • Adoption decree, or 
  • Court order

Only if Petitioner and/or Beneficiary changed their legal names

Criminal records

  • Certified criminal records for the petitioner for certain types of crimes (e.g., domestic violence, murder, rape, controlled substance violations and others).

Only if Petitioner committed certain crimes

K-3 Visa Processing

A K-3 visa that is based on a marriage that was registered outside the United States needs to be issued by a consular officer in the foreign country where the marriage took place.

After receiving an approved Form I-129F, consular officers will first determine if the associated I-130 petition has already been approved. 

If Form I-130 was approved, then K-3 visa application will be refused and the U.S. Embassy will adjudicate an immigrant visa. 

If the I-130 has not yet been approved, the K-3 visa processing will continue. 

If Form I-130 is denied after the K-3 visa is issued, the K-3 visa is no longer valid.

What Happens After K-3 Visa is Issued

K-3 and K-4 visas are generally valid for multiple entries for a period of 24 months.

An unmarried child entering the U.S. on a K-4 visa will be admitted for a period of 24 months or until the child’s 21st birthday, whichever is shorter.

If Form I-130 or Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) is denied, K-3 status terminates 30 days after the denial.

If the U.S. citizen petitioner dies after K-3 or K-4 visa holders enter the U.S., Form I-130 will be converted to Form I-360 as a widower of a U.S. citizen.

Adjustment of Status in the U.S.

After entering the U.S. on a K-3 visa, the beneficiaries will submit Adjustment of Status applications.

A new medical examination form is not required if the medical exam obtained for the K-3 visa is less than a year old prior to the adjustment of status filing.

As noted above, a separate Form I-130 is not needed to obtain a K-4 visa for a child.

However, Form I-130 must be submitted with the adjustment of status application for the child if the child is a stepchild of the U.S. citizen.

Related links:

Marriage Green Card

Adjustment of Status

K-1 Visa for Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Consular Processing