October 15, 2007

How Can I Get My Family To the U.S. Faster?

Spouses and children of U.S. Citizens have the option of filing what are called K-3 and K-4 nonimmigrant visas in order to complete their processing for legal permanent residency in the United States. One of the principal benefits K-3 and K-4 visas are that immediate families will be unified several months faster than if they were pursuing a typical immediate relative immigrant petition.

K-3 Visas

To be eligible for a K-3 visa, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

Be the spouse of a U.S. Citizen;

Have a pending relative petition, and file Form I-130 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);

Intend to enter the U.S. to await completion of the permanent residency process; and

Have an approved Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This form is forwarded by USCIS to the U.S. consulate where the spouse will apply for the visa. The consulate specified on the Form I-129F must be either:

  • The consulate in the country where the marriage occurred, if the marriage occurred outside the United States.
  • The consulate with jurisdiction over the current residence of the alien spouse, if the marriage occurred in the U.S.

K-4 Visas

K-4 non-immigrants are derivative beneficiaries of the K-3 nonimmigrant. Normally, this would mean the spouse’s children. To be eligible for a K-4 visa, the applicant must be:

  • Unmarried;
  • Under 21 years of age; and
  • The child of the principal K-3 visa applicant or holder.
  • Separate Form I-130s and I-129Fs are not required for the K-4 applicant. However, in order to ensure there are no problems during the adjustment process, it is recommended that the children’s I-130 be filed with the parent’s I-130.

A U.S. Citizen attempting to get a I-3 visa for a spouse and/or a K-4 visa for child(ren) must submit Form I-130 to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the citizen’s place of residence in the United States. Once the Service Center has received Form I-130, the citizen will receive a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, acknowledging receipt of Form I-130 by the USCIS. Finally, the citizen must file form I-129F, accompanied by a copy of the I-130 receipt notice with USCIS.

Obtaining the K Visa and traveling to the United States does not complete the permanent residency application process. Upon entering the United States, each K-3/K-4 nonimmigrant must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS. This application can only be submitted after the spouse’s Form I-130 has been approved. If Form I-130 has not already been completed for each of the K-4 children, the children must file a Form I-130 with their Form I-485.

K-3 and K-4 visas are no longer valid 30 days after the following:

  • Denial of the I-130;
  • Denial of Adjustment of Status;
  • A final divorce of the marriage;
  • A K-4 nonimmigrant turning 21 years old or marrying;
  • Approval of permanent residence for the K-3; or
  • The expiration of two years without a request for an extension of stay.

By Michelle Richart