K-3 Visa - Spouse of U.S. Citizen

OVERVIEW

A citizen of a foreign country, who wishes to enter the United States, generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.

If you are an American citizen you have two ways to bring your foreign spouse (husband or wife) to the United States to live. They are:

  • Immediate Relative Immigrant visa
  • K-3 Nonimmigrant visa for spouse of a U.S. Citizen


DEFINITION of K-3 VISA


Spouses of U.S. citizens, and the spouse's children, can come to the United States on a nonimmigrant visas (K-3 and K-4) and wait in the United States to complete the immigration process. Before a K-4 visa can be issued to a child, the parent must have a K-3 visa or be in K-3 status.

Please note that the application for the nonimmigrant visa for spouse (K-3) must be made at the U.S. embassy/Consulate in the country where the marriage took place. After a K-3 visa is issued, the spouse can travel to the United States to wait for the processing of the immigrant visa petition.


DEFINITION OF "SPOUSE"

A spouse is a legally wedded husband or wife. Merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration. Common-law spouses may qualify as spouses for immigration, but only if the laws of the country where the common-law marriage occurs recognizes common-law marriages and grants them all the same rights and obligations as a traditional marriage.

U.S. laws do not allow polygamy. Polygamy is defined as having more than one husband or wife at the same time. If you were married before, you and your spouse must show that you ended (terminated) all previous marriages before your current marriage. The death and divorce documents that show termination of marriages must be legal and verifiable in the country that issued them. Divorces must be final. In cases of legal marriage to two or more spouses at the same time, or marriages overlapping for a period of time, you may file only for the first spouse.


ELIGIBILITY

A person may receive a K-3 visa if that person:


has concluded a valid marriage with a citizen of the United States;

has a relative petition 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 Petition for Alien Fiance, 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.


Minimum Age Requirement for the Petitioner
There is no minimum age to file a petition for a spouse for immigration. However, you must be 18 years of age and have a domicile in the U.S. before you can sign the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864 which is required for an immigrant visa for spouses and other relatives of U.S. sponsors.

U.S. Domicile Requirement

Domicile is a place where a person has his or her principal residence. The person must intend to keep that residence for the foreseeable future. The sponsor of an immigrant must have domicile in the United States before the visa can be issued. This generally means that the sponsor must be living in the United States. In certain circumstances, however one can be considered to have a domicile while living temporarily overseas.

Termination of All Previous Marriages

U.S. law does not allow polygamy. Polygamy is defined as having more than one husband or wife at the same time. If you were married before, you and your spouse must both show that you ended (terminated) all previous marriages before your current marriage. The death and divorce documents that show termination of marriages must be legal and verifiable in the country that issued them. Divorces must be final. In cases of legal marriage to two or more spouses at the same time, or marriages overlapping for a period of time, you can file only for your first spouse.


EMPLOYMENT

To be legally employed in the U.S., a K-3 visa holder can file an Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS for an employment authorization document (work permit).


DEPENDENTS

All unmarried children under 21 years of age of a K-3 visa holder may qualify for the K-4 derivative visa status.


CHANGE OF STATUS TO ANOTHER NON-IMMIGRANT CATEGORY

K-3/K-4 visa holders cannot change status in the United States to another non-immigrant visa category.


TRAVEL ON K-3 AND K-4 VISAS

Foreign nationals present in the United States in a K-3 or K-4 nonimmigrant visa status can travel outside of the United States and return using their K-3/K-4 visa..


VISA INELIGIBILITY

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. In some instances, waivers may be available. Examples of these ineligibilities are:

Trafficking in Drugs
Having HIV/AIDS
Overstaying a previous visa
Practicing polygamy
Advocating the overthrow of the government
Submitting fraudulent documents



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