K- 3 and K- 4 Visas
The LIFE Act amendments that were passed in 2000 established a new nonimmigrant category that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen to be admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant category: a K-3 visa (for spouses) and a K-4 visa for unmarried children of the spouse under 21. If you are the spouse or child (under 21) of a U.S. citizen and you are outside of the U.S., you may apply for a K-3/K-4 visa, enter the U.S., and complete processing for permanent residence after you arrive in the U.S. As a K-3/K-4 visa holder, you may also be granted work authorization while you are waiting for your case to be processed for permanent resident status.
You may receive a K-3 visa if:
- You have concluded a valid marriage with a citizen of the United States;
- Your U.S. citizen relative has filed a relative petition (Form I-130) with the INS in the U.S.;
- You seek to enter and remain in the U.S. to await the approval of the I-130 petition and subsequent lawful permanent resident status, and
- Your U.S. citizen relative has filed and obtained an approval of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance, with the INS in the U.S. The U.S. citizen does not have to file separate I-129F forms for the K-4 children. The K-4 children should be listed on the I-129F as children of the K-3 spouse. You can still obtain approval for K-4 children, even if they are not listed on the I-129F, as long as the proper documentation is submitted to the consular officer processing the visas; however, it is advisable that all K-4 children be listed in the I-129F to avoid delays in processing.
The K-3/K-4 visa will be processed in the U.S. consulate in the country in which your marriage to the U.S. citizen took place – if the United States has a consulate which issues immigrant visas in that country. If you were married in the U.S. and you are now outside of the U.S., the designated consulate is the one with jurisdiction over your current residence.
Once the K-3/K-4 relatives arrive in the U.S., they will have to apply for adjustment of status to permanent resident. Although the U.S. citizen sponsor does not need to file separate I-129F forms for the K-4 children, the law requires that the K-4 children still have approved immigrant visa petitions, which must either be filed by the U.S. citizen or the K-3 spouse, once his/her status is adjusted. The easier and more advisable way to do this is to have the U.S. citizen file a separate I-130 petition (as the step-parent) for each of the K-4 children (at the same time as filing the I-130 for the K-3 spouse). Once those petitions are approved, the K-4 children’s status can be adjusted along with the K-3 spouse.
If you have any questions, contact South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel at (954) 385-3111.