K-3 And K-4 Visas
On December 21, 2000, the Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act amended the K nonimmigrant visa category to include the spouse and unmarried children of United States citizens. With this modification, the spouse and children of a United States citizen may be admitted to the United States as K-3 and K-4 nonimmigrants to complete their process for permanent residence. One of the principal benefits of K-3 and K-4 visas is that immediate families will be unified several months faster than if they were pursuing a typical immediate relative immigrant petition.
How do I determine whether I am eligible for a K-3 or K-4 visa?
To be eligible for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, the individual must meet the following requirements:
1) Be the spouse of a United States citizen.
2) Have a pending relative petition, Form I-130 filed with the USCIS.
3) Have the intent to enter the United States in order to await the completion of the permanent residence process.
4) Have an approved Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. This form shall be forwarded by the USCIS to the United States consulate where the spouse wished to apply for the K-3 visa. The consulate specified on the Form I-129F must be one of the following:
a) If the marriage occurred outside of the United States, the consulate where the marriage took place, OR
b) If the marriage occurred in the United States, the consulate with jurisdiction over the current residence of the alien spouse.
K-4 nonimmigrants are derivative beneficiaries of the K-3 nonimmigrant. To be eligible for the K-4, the applicant must be unmarried, under 21 years of age, and be the child of the principle K-3 visa applicant or holder. Separate Form I-130s and Form 1-129Fs are not required for the K-4 applicant. However, in order to ensure that there are no problems during the adjustment of status process, it is recommended that the children’s I-130 be filed concurrently with the I-130 for the K-3 applicant.
Where do I file the forms?
The Form I-130 must be filed with the USCIS at the service center with jurisdiction over the residence of the United States citizen.
The Form I-129F must be submitted in the following manner:
If you are filing for your fiance(e), file this petition at the Service Center with jurisdiction over your area of residence. If you are filing for your fiance(e) and live outside the United States, submit this petition to the Service Center with jurisdiction over your last place of residence in the U.S.
If you are a U.S. citizen, and are using this form to bring in your wife or unmarried child under the LIFE Act, file this petition at:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Do I have to apply for an adjustment of status?
Obtaining the K visa and traveling to the United States does not complete the entire process for permanent residence. Once in the United States, each K-3/4 nonimmigrant must file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status, with the INS. These applications for adjustment of status can only be submitted after the spouse’s Form I-130 has been approved by the Service. If a Form I-130 has not been completed for each of the K-4 children, the children must file a Form I-130 concurrently with their Form I-485.
Am I allowed to work with a K-3 or K-4 visa?
Both K-3 and K-4 nonimmigrants are eligible to obtain work authorization while their permanent residence application is pending. In order to apply for work authorization, individuals must submit a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with $175 to the Chicago address listed for the submission of the Form I-129F.
Can I travel on a K-3 or K-4 Visa?
Once a nonimmigrant has been granted a K-3/4 visa, the individual may travel outside the United States and be readmitted with a valid K visa.
How can my K-3 or K-4 status be terminated?
These visas are no longer valid 30 days after one of the following:
1) Denial of the I-130.
2) Denial of Adjustment of Status.
3) A final divorce of the marriage.
4) A K-4 nonimmigrant turning 21 years old or marrying.
5) Approval of permanent residence for the K-3, thus terminating the derivative K-4 status.
6) The expiration of two years without a request for an extension of stay.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.