While marriage rates have declined over the decades, about half of Americans over the age of 18 are married, with one in five marriages including a foreign-born spouse. Marriage can be complex for many reasons but dealing with immigration law as well as starting a life together can pose added challenges. The K-3 visa and the I-130 petition can help couples with the immigration process.
What Is a K-3 Visa?
The K-3 visa allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. while an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is pending with USCIS. It was designed to help reduce the separation couples might otherwise face during the immigrant visa process.
The K-3 visa is a temporary way to remain in the United States. Once the I-130 Petition for Alien Relativeis approved, the K-3 visa holder has up to two years to adjust their status to secure their green card.
What Is an I-130 Petition?
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a form U.S. spouses can file with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) as part of a family-based immigration application for their foreign-born spouse. This form is filed to demonstrate the qualifying marital relationship and seeks permanent residency for the non-U.S. spouse.
How Are They Related?
Technically, both Form I-130 and the K-3 visa allow the foreign-born spouse to enter the United States on the basis of their qualifying marriage. However, while the K-3 visa is a temporary way to enter the U.S. while awaiting the outcome of an immigration petition, Form 1-130 is the petition for permanent resident status.
Which One Do You Need First?
Generally, foreign-born spouses of U.S. citizens must file Form I-130 first, as this is the form that establishes the qualifying family relationship. Once the USCIS replies with Form I-797C (Notice of Action), the U.S. citizen in the relationship can then begin the process of applying for a K-3 visa. However, in some instances, USCIS may allow for the K-3 and I-130 petitions to be filed concurrently.
What’s the Process for Getting Each?
To file Form I-130, you will need to download and follow the instructions for Form I-130. This form can be filed either online or on paper and will require you to prove your U.S. citizenship status, that a valid marriage has taken place, and evidence of the validity of the marriage. The instructions outline what you will need to submit as proof. You will also need to pay a fee.
To apply for a K-3 visa, you must be in a valid marriage in which one of you is an American citizen and you must meet the requirements outlined in the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005. If you have determined you qualify for a K-3 visa and have an I-130 pending, the U.S. citizen in the relationship can file Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé).
You will need to include Form I-797C as part of the application, which you should receive from USCIS after filing Form I-130. You will also need to pay the current fees and provide a copy of your marriage certificate. Upon approval, the foreign-born national will need to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate and the government may request additional documentation.
There are no caps on K-3 visas, and there are always visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
What Should You Know About the Process?
The processing time for a K-3 visa can still take six to nine months and, in some cases, spouses receive approval for the I-130 at around the same time as they receive the K-3 visa. Before applying for a K-3 visa, check processing times for your forms to determine whether a K-3 visa petition makes sense for your case.
An additional issue that can arise is that USCIS can check closely for immigration fraud. The validity of the marriage is an important factor in getting immigration status. If you are preparing to enter the United States through a marriage relationship, you will need more than a marriage certificate.
Have documentation on hand to show that any previous marriages have lawfully ended. It is also a good idea to have documentation in case immigration officials ask for further evidence of your marriage and its validity. This might include:
- Any evidence showing shared assets, bank accounts, or property.
- Birth certificates or adoption papers showing you have children together.
- Mortgage papers or rental agreements in both your names, showing you live together.
- Airplane tickets or passport stamps showing you have visited each other often (if you live apart).
Another option is to have a list of friends and family who can testify about your relationship tosupply sworn or affirmed affidavits. Even photographs of your wedding and relationship can bolster your case.
How Can Farmer Law Help People Navigate This Process?
If you have married, the legal team at Farmer Law PC would like to extend our congratulations. Of course, you want to start your life together soon. If you are concerned about filing Form I-130, have had your application rejected, are unsure about which visa to apply for, or need assistance with the immigration process, contact Farmer Law PC for a consultation.
Working with one of our attorneys means you have an attorney with immigration law experience helping you file the correct forms and navigate the system. We can review whether filing for a K-3 visa makes sense in your case. Our full-service immigration law practice takes on cases of any size, and we offer exceptional communication to keep you informed. Contact us today or call us at 512-894-2128 to discuss how we can help.