Family & Spouse Sponsorship K-3 and K-4 visas

Annual quota: Unlimited.
Length of visa: Two years, within which time a request for extension of stay must be filed.

The Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act of 2000 amended the nonimmigrant visa category to include the spouse and unmarried children of United States citizens. This means that family members may be allowed to stay in the United States while they complete the process for permanent residence. K-3 and K-4 visas make it possible for families to be together many months sooner before this change to the law.

In order to qualify for a K-3 spouse visa you must:

  • Be the legal spouse of a United States citizen.
  • Have a pending relative petition (Form I-130) on file with the USCIS.
  • Intend, upon entering the United States, to complete the permanent residency process.
  • Have an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé (Form I-129F). The USCIS forwards this form to the United States consulate where the spouse applies for the K-3 visa.
  • Spouses must apply for the K-3 visa at either the consulate where the marriage took place, if it took place outside the United States, or the consulate that has jurisdiction over the applicant’s current residence.
Children of United States citizens may be granted K-4 status as derivative beneficiaries of the K-3 visa holder. This means that once the spouse’s K-3 status is granted, children are not required to file separate forms in order to be granted K-4 status. However, we recommend that forms for children be filed along with those of the parent. This helps to ensure that there are no problems when the child’s status is adjusted later.

In order to qualify for a K-4 child visa you must:

  • Be unmarried.
  • Be under 21 years of age.
  • Be the child of the principal K-3 visa applicant or holder.

What happens next?

It is important to remember that obtaining a K-3 or K-4 visa and coming into the United States does not complete the process for permanent residency status. These visas are only a means to bring families together while the permanent residency process is being completed. Once in the United States, each K-3 and K-4 visa holder must begin the process to adjust their status for permanent residency.

Can I work in the United States with a K visa?

Yes. Both K-3 and K-4 visa holders are eligible to work in the United States while they are awaiting approval of their permanent residency applications. However, work authorization must first be applied for and granted.

Can my K-3 or K-4 status be terminated?

Yes. K-3 and K-4 visas expire 30 days after any of the following:

  • The I-130 form is denied.
  • The application for adjustment of status is denied.
  • The K-3 visa holder is divorced from his or her spouse.
  • The K-4 visa holder turns 21 or is married.
  • The two-year limit for requesting an extension of stay has expired.
  • The derivative status of K-4 visa holders terminates once the K-3 visa holder has been approved for permanent residence.