Houston K-3 Visa Lawyer Helping Married Couples Stay Together
When a U.S. citizen is married to a foreign spouse, there is often a period of separation while the spouse is waiting for the approval for their immigrant visa petition Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). Once approved, this form grants the spouse lawful permanent resident status and a green card. However, these petitions can take well over a year to be processed. In these situations, the couple may choose to file for a K-3 visa for the foreign spouse. This non-immigrant visa allows the spouse to legally stay in the U.S. while their immigration petition is being processed.
While it is critical to be aware of the K-3 visa as a tool to keep your family together while you wait for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process your spouse’s petition, you need to weigh it against your other legal options. The Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC, can help determine if obtaining a K-3 visa could benefit your situation.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a K-3 Visa?
The individual seeking a K-3 visa must be:
- The legal spouse of a U.S. citizen. Spouses of green card holders are ineligible for a K-3.
- A resident of a country outside the U.S.
- Pending approval of their already submitted Form I-130.
- Meet income requirements that demonstrate their ability to support themselves in the U.S. or have a joint sponsor file an “affidavit of support.”
If your alien spouse has minor children, they may also be eligible to travel to the U.S. However, you must file for a K-4 visa for them. An immigration lawyer can explain more about this process if it applies to your case.
What Forms Must Be Filed for a K-3 Visa Application?
Confusingly, Form I-129F, which must be used for the K-3 visa application, is named “Petition for Alien Fiancé.” Despite the name, it can be used by U.S. citizens to file on their foreign spouse’s behalf. All the supporting documents required by the application must be supplied when filing, and the USCIS may request more information to make their decision. Once Form I-129F has been approved, the alien spouse must submit Forms DS-156 and DS-157. They must provide the necessary documentation for these forms, attend an interview at the U.S. embassy in their country, and get a medical exam from a certified doctor. Once a K-3 visa is issued, it is valid for two years or until the USCIS grants your Form I-130.
What Are the Drawbacks of a K-3 Visa?
While getting a K-3 visa is not necessarily challenging, it is a rarely used type of visa. The main reason is that it generally takes the same amount of time to get a K-3 visa approved as it does to obtain a green card through consular processing. Green card holders are also allowed to seek employment immediately upon entering the U.S. because they have permanent residency, while those holding a K-3 visa must get a separate work authorization. Importantly, if your spouse is a Canadian citizen, you should be aware that Canada no longer processes K-3 visa applications, so it will not be an option in your case.
When might a K-3 visa be appropriate? If your immigration lawyer advises you that processing times for Form I-130 are currently very long and you do not wish to be separated from your spouse for that much time, the K-3 visa could be helpful. There may be other case-by-case situations where it would provide an advantage to you, your spouse, or your spouse’s children. In all cases, speaking to your lawyer before filing is vital to ensure you are well-informed of your options.
Why Consult With a Knowledgeable Immigration Attorney?
While a K-3 visa might be the best choice for your situation, it represents an unnecessary expense for many couples without any immigration benefit. Under most circumstances, the green card application will suffice, and submitting a K-3 visa petition for a foreign spouse will not allow them to enter the U.S. any faster. However, it is only possible to determine the usefulness of a K-3 visa by looking at the details of your case. An experienced immigration lawyer from the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC, can delve into your circumstances and help you determine which process makes sense in your unique case. Contact our immigration law firm today at 281-606-0800 to schedule a consultation with a helpful K-3 visa lawyer.