Integrity Legal

14th June 2009

The K-3 Visa is a bit of an anomaly in United States Immigration law because it was created as something of a “band aid” and has since become somewhat misunderstood.

The K-3 was originally devised as a “fast track,” visa for those wishing to bring their foreign spouse into the United States. The reason a “fast track,” option was necessary was due in part to the fact that classic Immigrant visa petitions for spouse’s of American Citizens (CR-1, IR-1) were taking as long as three to four years to adjudicate because of the tremendously large backlog of cases at what was then known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) . The collective frustration with immigrant visa processing lead to the K-3′s birth.

K-3 Visa Application (s)

In order to file for a K-3 visa one must first file for a traditional marriage visa (IR-1/CR-1). This necessitates the submission of an I-130 application. The I-130 will be sent to the proper United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office for adjudication.  Then the USCIS office will send the petitioner or his visa lawyer a document known as Notice of Action 1 (NOA1). The Notice of Action 1 is simply a receipt from USCIS formally acknowledging the petition’s submission.

Once the Notice of Action 1 is received the petitioner and beneficiary have the option of submitting a supplemental immigration petition with the USCIS service center that has jurisdiction over the petitioner’s state of residence. When initially promulgated there were questions regarding what form should be used when petitioning for the K-3. It was eventually decided that in the interests of efficiency and ease the I-129 f petition (usually used as the K-1 visa application) would be used as the supplemental application form for the K-3 visa.

A second Notice of Action 1 will be sent out to either the visa lawyer or the petitioner putting the party on notice that the case was received.

K-3 Visa Application: Processing Time

In order to calculate the processing time for the K-3 application one must first ascertain how long it will take to get the initial I-130 application filed. Then, calculate the wait time before receiving Notice of Action 1 plus the actual adjudication time of the I-129f. Usually, the K-3 takes slightly longer to process than the K-1 visa and slightly less time to process than the Immigrant visas (CR-1 or IR-1). For unmarried couples, it may be advisable to seek a K-1 or CR-1 visa rather than the K-3. However, depending upon what Embassy the couple would prefer to use for consular processing, the K-3 could have some strategic advantages.

(Note: This post is not a substitute for proper legal advice from an attorney. Further, no attorney-client relatioship is created between author and reader.)


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