When a foreign national marries a US Citizen, they are allowed to apply for a visa to enter the USA to shorten the physical detachment of the married couple. If you are a foreign citizen thinking of how to move to Canada or any state in the USA to be with your spouse, you need to apply first for a K3 spouse visa while waiting for the approval of the immigrant visa petition.
A spouse with an approved K3 spouse visa who wishes to permanently reside with his or her spouse needs to apply for a permanent residency under the Department of Homeland Security and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services once their petition has been approved. (1)
What is a K3 Visa?
The K3 visa classification falls under non-immigrant visas. This visa is filed by the spouse of the US Citizen from the country where they were married, while the petition for an immigrant visa is applied by the US Citizen. Once the K3 visa is approved, the non-immigrants are allowed to stay in the US until their petition is approved.
Bear in mind that when you are applying for a K3 visa, the filing process should be done in the country where the marriage took place. If you are married outside the US and the country does not have a US embassy or consulate, it should be filed in a country where they normally process a US visa.
If the petition for an immigrant visa filed by the US Citizen spouse was approved first, the application for the K3 visa will be closed, and the US Citizen spouse shall follow a new process.
Who Is Eligible for K3 Visa?
There are specific criteria for spouses who want to apply for a K3 spouse visa. The foreign national should be legally married to a US Citizen, wherein the couple is required to provide legal documents of their marriage.
Same-sex spouses who are legally married to a US Citizen or a lawful permanent citizen are also eligible for this visa classification and may enjoy the same immigration benefits as regular married couples. There are also circumstances where common-law spouses are allowed to file for a petition, but it depends on the laws of the country where they were married.
Couples who are living together, no matter how long, are not eligible for a K3 visa. Under polygamy cases, only the first spouse is allowed to file a petition.
How To Apply For a K3 Visa
Before you can apply for a visa, you and your US Citizen spouse should both file for a petition.
Different petition forms will be applied by each. Once the USCIS approves either of the petition, they will be forwarded to the National Visa Center where you can start your visa application process.
The approved petition will be sent to the US Embassy of the spouse’s home country. Part of the visa application process is medical examinations, interviews, and the recording of digital fingerprints. You also need to prepare documentary requirements such as the completed online non-immigrant visa application form, a valid passport, original civil documents, medical exams, evidence of financial support, documents to prove your relationship with your US Citizen spouse, and 2×2 photographs.
You will be required to attend an interview after you have submitted all the application documents. Through this interview, you will be asked about your background, your marriage, and the reasons why you want to go to the US.
Even if the required documents are complete, the US Embassy may still do further administrative interviews and require supporting documents.
Once your visa is approved, you will be receiving an NVC packet which you need to bring when you travel to the USA. Though you are curious about its contents, do not open the packet since only the immigration officers have the authority to open the packet. This will determine if you are allowed to enter the country or not.
K3 Visa Processing Time and Validity
Since there will be circumstances that need an additional interview, its processing time may take up to eight months. The processing time includes the petition filing on USCIS and the visa application in the home country.
The K3 visa can be valid for two years and can be renewed for additional two years. However, if the petition applied by the US Citizen spouse has been rejected or the couple filed for divorce before the petition gets approved, the K3 visa shall be revoked.
Applying for a permanent residency in the US can take quite a long time and it can be a burden to married couples living in the US and a different country who wish to be together. With the help of the K3 visa, you can join your spouse in the US while waiting for the approval of your petition for permanent residency. (2)
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