Spouses of U.S. citizens who obtained a K-3 visa can enter the United States in a nonimmigrant visa category, and at the same time, they wait to be able to apply for lawful permanent residence status. This is why it is usually used as one of the strategies to quicken the process of obtaining the CR-1.
To apply for this type of visa, K-3 visa, as for any other categories, there are certain requirements that you have to meet. Firstly, you have to be legally married to a U.S. citizen. This means that you can provide a marriage certificate as proof. Then, you have to possess a family-based I-130 immigration petition filed by your spouse, who is a U.S. citizen. So, the petitioner does not submit this form by the beneficiary on the petitioner’s behalf. A third requirement is a fact that you seek to enter the United States to await your green card petition’s approval and subsequent lawful permanent resident status.
In 2019, the USCIS only issued a total of five K-3 visas, illustrating how rare it is for couples to choose this option. Still, it has certain benefits why so many people choose it.
Compared to marriage-based immigration visas, the K3 visas generally have shorter waiting periods. On average, it takes about 6 to 9 months, which is similar to the period that it takes USCIS to approve the marriage green card application.
If you are issued with the K-3 visa, you can apply for a work permit. You can do this by submitting Form I-765 and engage in employment when the EAD has been issued. As a K-3 visa holder, you may accept employment in the United States by obtaining an Employment Authorization Document. This step is crucial as you may not begin any employment in the United States until the EAD is issued.
If you have children who are under 21 years old, they can also accompany you to the United States. Your children will not use the K-3 visa, but they will be on the K-4 dependent visa and named in your visa petition. They may also be eligible to get employed during their stay in the U.S.
So, how can you apply? As we mentioned earlier, your spouse, who is a U.S. citizen, has to file an I-130 form on your behalf. Afterward, he or she will receive Form I-797, Notice of Action. This form indicates the USCIS has received the Form I-130 and that your spouse should file a Form I-129F on your behalf. It is important here not to forget to attach a copy of this Form I-797 with this package.
Upon approval, USCIS will forward the Form I-129F to the National Visa Center (NVC). The next step in processing forwarding application to the appropriate American Consulate so that you can apply for the K3 visa
While you wait for the approval of Form I-130, you can remain in the United States. Moreover, you will be able to apply for lawful permanent residence status (adjustment of status) instead of having to wait outside the United States as the law previously required.