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K-3 And K-4 Visa Provisions Of The "Life" Act


To facilitate family reunifications, the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) has implemented a K Nonimmigrant Visa as part of the Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act. 


The K Visa allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen, and that spouse's children, who are waiting abroad for an Immigrant Visa to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants, re-unite with their family here, and apply for Immigrant (Green Card) status while in the U.S. The spouse and children of U.S. citizens are designated K-3 and K-4 nonimmigrants, respectively.

This Visa category should be distinguished from the V Visa, also created by the LIFE Act, which allows certain spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) to reside and work in the U.S. while waiting to obtain Immigrant Status.

The new K Visa provisions co-exist with the existing K classifications, which permit the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1) or their accompanying children (K-2) to enter the U.S. in anticipation of permanent residence.

Note: Because the purpose of the K Visa is family reunification, the CIS has stated that Nonimmigrants will not be able to change from another Visa status to K status while in the U.S.


Applicants for a K-3 Visa must:

  • Be the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • Be the beneficiary of an approved CIS Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e));
  • Have a pending Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) filed on his/her behalf by the U.S. citizen spouse; and
  • Submit a completed Form I-693 (Medical Examination) when he/she appears at the U.S. Consulate to apply for the K-3 Visa.

Applicants for the K-4 Visa do not need separate Form I-130 or Form I-129F. However, they must:

  • Be an unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a K-3 Visa Applicant or holder; and
  • Submit a completed Form I-693 (Medical Examination) when he/she appears at the U.S. Consulate to apply for the K-4 Visa.

According to the CIS current rules, the steps are:

  • Form I-130. The U.S. citizen must file a Petition for Alien Relative with the CIS, which must be pending.
  • Form I-129F. The CIS has recognized the deficiencies of this form for purposes of K-3/K-4 classification but has mandated its use until further notice. The spouse of the K Visa applicant must submit the completed form to: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, P.O. Box 7218, Chicago, Illinois 60680-7218.
  • Approval. If the government approves the K-3/K-4 Application, a Nonimmigrant K-3/K-4 Visa will be issued from either:

    • the country in which the marriage took place, if the Visa Applicant resides outside of the U.S.; or
    • the Visa Applicant's home country, if the marriage took place in the U.S. designated by the Department of State.

    If the marriage took place in a country where there is no U.S. Visa-issuing post, then the application for a Visa will take place in the country designated by the Department of State.

  • Admission. If otherwise admissible, K Visa holders will be admitted for a period of two years, which may be extended in two-year increments.
  • Awaiting Immigrant Status. While the I-130 Petition is pending, the K-3 Nonimmigrant may file a Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment to Permanent Residence) or may elect to apply for an Immigrant Visa via Consular Processing at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S.. During the pendency of their Immigrant Applications, K-3 Nonimmigrants:

    • may travel outside of the U.S. and return using their Nonimmigrant K-3/K-4 Visa;
    • may work after filing Form I-765 with the CIS; or
    • may not change status to another Nonimmigrant Visa classification.
  • Immigrant Status. Foreign nationals who follow the K-3 route are still subject to the requirements of Conditional Residency if they become U.S. permanent residents based on a marriage that occurred less than 24 months before they were granted U.S. Permanent Resident Status.

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