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Complete guide to obtaining a US Spouse Visa, the required documents, eligibility criteria, and FAQs

Within the immediate relative or family sponsored visas, some of the most popular ones are the US visas for spouses.

The K3 visa allows the spouse from a foreign country to move to the US and reside there while they wait for the immigrant visa petition to be approved. This applies for married couples when one spouse is a US citizen and the other is from a foreign country.

Other Types of US Spouse visas

There are different types of spouse visas for the US, depending on the situation of the couple. Which one fits your family better depends on the requirements and whether you can fulfill them. The visas below are the US spouse visas:

  • K3 Visa – Spouse of a US Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition
  • Conditional Resident (CR-1) Visa – means that you have just been married and for 2 years you will maintain conditional status. This is to prevent marriages from happening only for obtaining permanent residence in the US.
  • Immediate Relative (IR-1) Visa – after you have been married for 2 years, you will gain permanent status without the conditions of the CR-1 visa.

Differences between the K3 visa and the K1 fiance visa

What are the Eligibility Criteria for the K3 Visa?

There are a few criteria for the spouse from a foreign country to qualify for the K3 visa. The K3 visa applicant must fulfill them, as follows:

  • Be married to a US citizen – the US does not recognize living together as being married. The couple must present valid documents that the marriage is legal.
  • The US citizen must have filed a Form I-130 for the spouse from a foreign country

These conditions must be fulfilled, otherwise the spouse from a foreign country does not qualify to get the K3 visa.

How to Apply for the K3 Visa?

The application process for the K3 visa has these two steps:

  1. The US citizen spouse must file Form I-130 and then Form I-129F and have them approved by USCIS
  2. The spouse from a foreign country must apply for a K3 visa at a US Embassy in the country of residence

Filing petitions

To fulfill the requirements for the K3 visa, the US citizen must first have filed the Form I-130 to USCIS for their spouse. If after getting the K3 visa, the spouse from a foreign country wants to change status to a CR-1 or IR-1 visa, they can use the same petition for them and there will be no need for a new one. When the form is filed, the US citizen spouse will get Form I-797, Notice of Action from USCIS, which they can use as proof that the Form I-130 is in processing.

After filing the Form I-130 petition, the US citizen spouse must then file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). Attached to this form must also be the Form I-797 and other supporting documents proving marriage. The Form I-129F must also include any dependents of the spouse from a foreign country such as children. There is no fee for this form for the purposes of a K3 visa.

USCIS will process the Form I-129F and upon approval, they will send it to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will issue a case number and invoice ID number for the applicant and will send a package to the K3 applicant. The package will contain information and instructions about how to apply for the K3 visa and the required documents.

If USCIS processes both Form I-130 and Form I-129F and approves them, sending them to the NVC, then the applicant cannot get a K3 visa, but must apply for a CR-1 visa. That is because the K3 visa is only for those whose Form I-130 is still processing and has not been approved yet.

Applying for a K3 visa

The spouse from the foreign country must then apply for the K3 visa. The applicant must apply at a US Embassy or Consulate in their home country using the instructions sent by the NVC.

The process for the K3 visa application is as follows:

File Form DS-160

Form DS-160, Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application is an online form which you as the applicant must fill out and submit with the relevant information. You can access it by using your NVC case number. The questions will be related to your background and reasons for going to the US. After the form is complete, you must submit and get the confirmation page which you will need later.

Complete medical examination and vaccination

The US has certain medical and vaccination requirements which its citizens and immigrants must fulfill. Anyone who wants to immigrate to the US must get the necessary medical check-ups and vaccines. The NVC package which you received after the approval of the petition will specify what medical procedures you must complete and the vaccines you need to get. A licensed doctor must complete the documents and the check-ups. You should attach these documents to your supporting file which you will then send to the NVC.

Compile documents file

Complete the file with the documents that the US Embassy/Consulate requires for a K3 visa application. Besides the application form, you must also attach various supporting documents such as:

  • Your valid passport for more than 6 months after your planned entry into the US
  • Form DS-260 confirmation page
  • Medical examination and vaccination documents
  • Two US visa photographs per individual according to the Photo Requirements
  • Birth certificate and marriage certificate
  • Court and criminal records and/or police certificate
  • Evidence that you have financial support for the initial period in the US (US citizen spouse must provide you with the Form I-134, Affidavit of Support)
  • Receipts for the payment of fees

Attend interview

The NVC will first make sure that you have submitted all the necessary documents and then will schedule the interview at the US Embassy where you have applied. The interview will be on your background and reasons for going to the US, as well as asking for any additional documents.

Receive NVC packet and travel to the US

If your K3 visa is approved, the officials at the US Embassy where you applied will give you a packet from the NVC. Do not open this packet under any circumstances. Instead, bring it with you when you travel to the US for the first time with your K3 visa and give it to an immigration official at any US port of entry. They have the authority to open it and will determine whether you can get into the country or not.

K3 Visa Validity

The K3 visa is valid for only 2 years. It can be renewed in 2 year increments, but will be revoked in case the US Department of State rejects Form I-130, the application for Lawful Permanent Residence, or if the couple gets divorced.

What are the K3 visa fees?

The K3 visa fees that your US citizen spouse and you will incur are as follows:

  • Form I-130 filing fee
  • Form DS-160 processing fee
  • Medical examination and vaccination fees
  • Other administrative costs for obtaining, translating, and shipping documents

How Long is the K3 Visa Processing Time?

K3 visa processing time varies from case to case and it takes 5-8 months to process.

On average USCIS takes 3-5 months to process and the US Embassy in your home country may take 2-3 months. Additionally, the US Embassies in different countries have different working times, which then might speed up or delay the processing of your K3 visa.

How to become a Lawful Permanent Resident after getting a K3 visa?

The next step after you have gotten your K3 visa is to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the US by getting a Marriage Green Card. To change your status from your immigrant visa to an LPR, you must first have an approved petition from USCIS and the visa, as well as live in the US.

Afterwards, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. This form will be processed and if approved you will be a legal resident in the US. If this form is rejected, then your K3 visa will be revoked or not renewed for the next term.

Lawful Permanent Residents in the United States are treated similarly to US citizens in terms of healthcare and health insurance. You obtain a health insurance policy as a green card holder in the United States through private companies. Here you can explore health insurance options for LPRs.

Can my spouse bring their children to the US with a K3 visa?

After the spouse from a foreign country gets an the K3 visa, they can bring their children to the US with them. The children which qualify must be unmarried and under 21 years old.

The children will get a K-4 visa, but if the K3 visa holder gets their CR-1 visa, the child will also have to switch to the appropriate derivative visa. The child can live in the US, attend school and higher education, and apply for naturalization after they qualify and get their US citizenship.

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