The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments
(LIFE Act) established a new nonimmigrant category to allow the spouse or child
of a U.S. citizen to be admitted to the U.S. in a nonimmigrant category while
waiting for a pending relative petition to be approved. This category was
established as a result of large backlogs in processing relative petitions
resulting in families being separated for long periods of time. The K-3 visa is
for spouses and the K-4 visa is for children. An attractive benefit of the K-3
visa is that employment authorization is available for those admitted in the
new category while waiting for processing of their case.
Who is Eligible?
A person may receive a K-3 visa if the person:
- has a
valid marriage with a U.S. Citizen;
- is the
beneficiary of a relative petition (Form I-130) filed by the U.S. citizen
- seeks to
enter the U.S. to await the approval of the relative petition and apply
lawful permanent resident status; and
- has an
approved Form I-129, Petition for Alien Fianc?/e, forwarded to the
American consulate abroad where the alien wishes to apply for the K-3/K-4
visa. (Note: the consulate must be in the country in which the marriage
to the U.S. citizen took place if the U.S. has a consulate which issues
immigrant visas in that country. If the marriage took place in the U.S.,
the designated consulate is the one with jurisdiction over the current
residence of the alien spouse.)
A person may receive a K-4 visa, if that person is under 21
years of age and is the unmarried child of an alien eligible to be a K-3.
How Do I Apply?
First, the U.S. citizen must file Form I-130 on behalf of
the alien spouse with the USCIS Regional Service Center having jurisdiction
over the citizenís place of residence. The U.S. Citizen will then receive a
Form I-797, Notice of Action, indicating that the I-130 has been received by
Next, the U.S. Citizen files a Form
I-129F on behalf of
the alien spouse and any children, along with a copy of the Form I-797,
Notice of Action (receipt of the Form I-130) and supporting documents to
the following address:
P.O. Box 7218
Chicago, IL 60607-7218
Will I Get a Work Permit?
Persons in K-3 or K-4 status are eligible to apply for a
work permit while their cases (Form I-130 or Form I-485) are pending. To apply
for a work permit, an applicant must send a Form I-765 Application for
Employment Authorization, with the appropriate filing
fee and supporting to documents to the following address:
P.O. Box 7218
Chicago, IL 60680-7218
Can I Travel Outside the United States?
Persons in K-3 or K-4 status may travel using their
unexpired K-3/K-4 nonimmigrant visa to travel outside of the U.S. and return,
even if he/she is applying for adjustment of status simultaneously.
IMPORTANT: Persons who obtained K-3/K-4 status while
in the U.S. should not travel outside
of the U.S. if they were out of status for more than 180 days (aggregate total)
prior to obtaining K-3/K-4 status. If this applies to you, or you think it may
apply to you, please consult with an attorney before making any travel plans.
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