Is the K-3 Spousal Visa Still Available?

05 Mar 2011

In theory, yes, but in practice, not really.  The K3 has been obsolete for several years, and if you submit a K3 nonimmigrant visa petition it will likely be changed to the CR1/IR1 Immigrant visa.

The K-3 visa was created in 2000 to address a huge backlog of immigrant visa petitions for spouses.  To address this problem Congress said that if a person had a Form I-130 petition pending for a spouse they could submit the I-129F form normally used for Fiancée visas.  This would allow the U.S. citizen spouse to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant rather than waiting abroad for the Form I-130 petition to be approved.  The applicant could then file the Adjustment of Status based on the K-3 petition rather than waiting for the I-130 to be approved.

Today, there is no longer a substantial backlog of I-130 petitions so there is no real need for the K-3 in most cases.  While the K-3 has not been officially eliminated as some have reported a K-3 petition filed now will almost certainly be converted to a CR1/IR1 and the I-129F petition will be dropped.  Since the filing fee for both the CR1/IR1 and the K-3 are both $420 there is no harm in “hedging your bet” and filing the K-3 unless you have children.  With the K-3 a child an be included and receive a K-4 visa without filing the I-130 and paying the associated $420 filing fee.  However once the child enters the U.S. and files the Adjustment of Status (AOS) to receive the green card he/she would then need to concurrently file the I-130 and pay the $420 filing fee along with the AOS fees.  So while you save the $420 I-130 fee for the child initially it must eventually be paid.

Because most K-3’s are being effectively changed to the CR1/IR1 now it would be a mistake to file a K-3 without including the I-130 for any children.  If a K-3 is submitted without the child’s I-130 and is changed to the CR1/IR1 the child would be left out because he/she had no I-130 to be approved.

Hopefully, we will never again suffer the huge I-130 backlogs that made the K-3 necessary in the first place.  Last month (February 2011) the USCIS reported a backlog of 30000 Form I-130 petitions but then shifted resources to substantially eliminated this backlog by the end of the month.

Another important point worth mentioning is that the CR1/IR1 also results in a substantial cost savings since the alien does not need to file the AOS and pay the associated filing fee of $1070.

So while the K-3 still technically exists it would likely be changed to the CR1/IR1 anyway.  It cost nothing extra to send in the I-129F just in case but it will likely be dropped.

Disclaimer: The contents of this post were accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing. Immigration is constantly changing, and old information often becomes outdated, including procedures, timelines, prices, and more. Take note of the publish date. For archival purposes, these posts will remain published, even if new information renders them obsolete. Do not make important life decisions based on this content. No part of this post should be considered legal advice, as RapidVisa is not a law firm. This content is provided free of charge for informational purposes only. If anything herein conflicts with an official government website, the official government website shall prevail.

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