The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issues different types of immigration visas for immigrants seeking entry into the country. One of these visas is the K-3 visa; it is also one of the most rarely-issued visas.

The K-3 visa was designed by immigration law to grant legal temporary visa status to the foreign citizen spouse of a U.S. citizen. The purpose of the visa is to shorten the physical separation between both a U.S. citizen spouse and their alien fiancé.

After entering the U.S. on this basis, the immigrant spouse can file or register permanent residence, which grants them employment authorization. There are different steps to the k3 immigrant visa application process, including scheduling and attending a visa interview.

The U.S. spouse files the required forms on behalf of their alien fiancé, with the required supporting documents like a legal marriage certificate. If you’d like to know more about the K3 visa and its processing time, keep reading.

Is the K3 Visa Still Available?

The K-3 visa is available for spouses who meet the stipulated eligibility requirements, including being the legal spouse of a U.S. citizen. Other requirements include the applicant residing outside the U.S, and the citizen spouse having already filed Form I-130, among others.

The U.S. citizen files two forms, I-130 and I-129F on his or her behalf, which ends once the National Visa Center receives and approves them. Then, the K-3 visa is administratively closed and the NVC will contact both spouses with instructions on IR-1 or CR-1 immigrant visa processing.

Is K1 or K-3 Visa Faster?

International couples tend to prefer the K1 visa because it is considered the easiest, quickest, and least expensive immigrant visa. The K1 fiancé visa grants a U.S. citizen’s foreign fiancé entry into the United States to marry within ninety days.

The processing time for K1 visas is usually five to seven months from the time the USCIS Service Center receives the I-129F. Once the USCIS approves the visa, it sends the petition to the overseas embassy or consulate for consular processing.

How Hard Is It to Obtain an Approval for K-3 Immigrant Visa Petition?

The USCIS rarely issues a K-3 visa, so obtaining this immigrant visa category can be hard. In theory, the k3 visa processing time is between three to thirteen months on average.

This time frame is the same as if you’re applying for a marriage green card, which is why people avoid it. While you can go ahead and apply for it, it is better to apply for a K1 visa instead.

Can a K-3 Visa Be Denied?

There are different instances under which the USCIS can deny or revoke a K3 visa application. The k-3 visa can be denied if the United States citizen spouse doesn’t have sufficient income to sponsor the foreign national spouse.

It can also be denied if the USCIS suspects that the relationship isn’t real or that the couple is ineligible to marry. Other reasons include fraudulent applications, insufficient evidence to prove a genuine relationship, having certain medical conditions, or having a criminal record.

What Privileges Do You Enjoy with the K3 Visa?

On a K3 visa, you can reside in the United States with your family while you await the approval of your visa petition. The K3 visa also allows you to apply for employment authorization, study in the U.S., and travel outside and re-enter the US.

However, you cannot change to another nonimmigrant status while you’re on the K3 visa. Also, you cannot enter the United States if you’ve been temporarily barred for violating any U.S. immigration law in the past.

Can You Apply for Stay Extension While on the K3 Spouse Visa?

The K3 visa is typically valid for only two years, after which you can apply for a stay extension. You can apply for an extension of stay by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status.

However, you must file this form four months (120 days) before your current authorized stay expires. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, grants extension of stay in two-year intervals – that is, every two years.

Do the Children of a K3 Immigrant Visa Holder Get a Status?

If you have biological or adopted children who are unmarried and below the age of 21, they are eligible for a K4 visa. However, if you have more than one child, you need to submit separate visa applications and legal fees for them.

Also, you need to include your children as dependents on your petition when you’re filing your K3 visa application. When you file Form I-485, adjustment of status, you need to file for them separately; they must be below 18.

How Do You Apply for the K3 Visa?

How Do You Apply for the K3 Visa

The U.S. citizen spouse will file the Form I-130 petition with the USCIS on behalf of his or her alien spouse. After this, they’ll file Form I-129F with the receipt notice I-797, Notice of Action, sent by the USCIS. After filing Form I-129F and receiving the correspondence of approval, the next step is the electronic filing of the DS-160 visa application form.

You will file Form DS-160 on the website of the United States Department of State. After this, you’ll pay the visa processing fee online or during the interview and schedule an interview with your home country’s embassy or consulate.

What Is the Waiting Period for K3 Visa?

K3 visa processing time tends to be long and challenging; this can be because of delay for one reason or the other. The waiting period consists of the delay in the approval of forms I-130 and I-129F and the submission of Form DS-160.

Additionally, the consulate or embassy in your home country will schedule an interview, which can take another couple of months. Averagely, it takes between six to nine months from the time you file the petitions to when you get the pending approval.

What Other Types of US Spouse Visas Can You Obtain?

There are different categories of spouse visas that are granted depending on the couple’s situation. Apart from the K3 visa, other foreign spouse visa types include Conditional Resident Visa (CR-1) and Immediate Relative Visa (IR-1).

You gain permanent resident status on the Immediate Relevant Visa if you’ve been married to a U.S. citizen spouse for at least two years. Meanwhile, on the CR-1, you’ll maintain conditional status for two years because it means you just got married to the U.S. citizen spouse.

As a foreign spouse, you can either seek permanent residence or apply to get a conditional green card from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. To do this, you must first understand the requirements for a foreign spouse and ensure you are in full compliance. Immigrant visa petitions for a foreign spouse that are defective will be denied and the process restarted.

Do You Still Need K-3 or K-4 Visas?

You often don’t need to apply for a k-3 or k-4 visa anymore because the USCIS now adjudicates Form I-130 in less time. Families of a lawful permanent resident often face extended separation from one another while waiting for immigration visa petitions to be granted.

The k-3 and k-4 nonimmigrant visas were created by Congress to solve the problem of extended physical separation of families, especially those of a lawful permanent resident in the United States.

What Is the Required Documentation to Obtain the K-3 Visa?

What Is the Required Documentation to Obtain the K-3 Visa

If you’re applying for the K-3 visa, you will be instructed to bring the following to your visa interview:

  • Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, filled and completed by the applicant and eligible children;
  • Passport valid for travel with original and photocopies of civil documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificate, and divorce decree, and death certificate. Note that the decree is only needed when there is a valid citizen spouse divorce;
  • Medical examination showing the recommended vaccinations and affidavit or evidence of financial support. The medical examination must come from a recognized hospital and a certified doctor;
  • Evidence of relationship, two 2×2 passport-style photographs, filled immigration forms like the Form I-129F, and proof of payment or payment of legal visa processing fees.
  • Proof that the spouse meets the income requirements that qualifies them as a financial sponsor.

After presenting all of these documents, USCIS approves after it has reviewed and ensures they are all in compliance. Then, a receipt notice is issued and the U.S. citizen spouse payment fee is prescribed to complete the immigrant visa process. Forms received by the USCIS are also sent to the Department of Homeland Security for review and assessment.

What Are the Chances of Obtaining a K-3 Visa?

A K3 visa does have its immigration benefits, but most couples are unlikely to get it. For instance, the USCIS only issued five k3 visas in 2019 and only two in 2020. Whereas, the USCIS grants 55,044 CR1 and IR1 immigrant visas for an alien relative or alien spouses of U.S. citizens in 2020.

Some say the NVC and USCIS conspire to delay the K-3 visa process time so that the I-130 can catch up. Meanwhile, the K-3 pending form is administratively closed once the I-130 is issued because there is no need for it any longer. However, applicants must know that the average time it takes to process a K3 visa is similar to what is obtainable for a green card application. As such, you may have to wait as long as a green card applicant will when applying for a K3 visa.

In addition, getting a K3 visa is essential to applying for a green card and subsequently becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Contact Herman Legal Group for Your K-3 Visa Processing

It is possible to be legally married, have the required documents like your birth certificate, confirmation page and pending or approved Form I-129F [Petition for Alien Fiancé] filled and still have your K-3 visa interview denied. The K-3 visa process can be a bit tricky sometimes and that is why working with an attorney who is versed in immigration issues is key.

With over 26 years of experience handling immigration matters and helping individuals through the K-3 visa process, Herman Legal Group is the best law firm at this. You can schedule a consultation with any of our attorneys by calling +1-216-696-6170 to discuss your nonimmigrant visa status, petition for alien fiancé, or other green card issues. Alternatively, you can book online to schedule a consultation with Richard Herman.


The processing time for a K-3 immigration visa petition filed can be long and arduous, especially for those not related to lawful permanent residents. It is often better to apply for a K1 visa or wait for the I-130 form to be approved by your consular officer. One downside of the K-3 visa is that you can’t adjust status unless you apply for another visa category. If you decide to apply for a K-3 visa, we recommend hiring an experienced immigration attorney from a reputable law firm to help.

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