Ways to Bring Your Spouse to the United States

If you are an American citizen you have two ways to bring your foreign spouse (husband or wife) to the United States to live:

One way is through an Immigrant visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen

Step 1: File An Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative The US citizen files I-130 petition at a USCIS field office in the United States.
>>Use Petition Form I-130

Step 2: Get Immigrant Visa Once the petition is approved go for consular processing at a US consulate in home country and get the immigrant visa.

Step 3: File for EAD (Employment Authorization card)

Step 4: File for Social Security Number at the social security office.

Another way is through the Non-immigrant visa for spouse (K-3 Visa)

The K-3 Visa is a non-immigrant (temporary visiting) visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen to come to the US, while his/her permanent stay case is still pending. The K-3 visa must be filed and the visa must be issued in the country where the marriage took place. After the visa process has been completed, and the visa is issued, the spouse can travel to the United States to wait for the processing of the immigrant visa case.

Step 1: File for K3 visa at nearest US consulate ( unmarried Children of spouse, age under 21 can get K4 visa)

Step 2: After coming to USA file for Adjustment of status (AOS) by filing I-485.

Step 3: File for EAD (Employment Authorization card)

Step 4: File for Social Security Number at the social security office.

Non-immigrant Visa for Spouse - K-3 Visa

The Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments (LIFE Act) established a new nonimmigrant category within the immigration law that allows the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen to be admitted to the United States in a non-immigrant category. The admission allows the spouse or child to complete processing for permanent residence while in the United States. It also allows those admitted in the new category to have permission for employment while they await processing of their case to permanent resident status.

A K-4 visa is a version of the K-3 visa but for unmarried children under the age of 21. Before a K-4 visa can be issued to a child, the parent must have a K-3 visa or be in K-3 status.

The Process for Bringing Your Spouse to the United States via K-3 Visa

Step 1: Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative - Form I-130
You must first file an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 for your spouse and children with your local USCIS Office in the United States. The USCIS will send you a Notice of Action (Form I-797) receipt notice. This notice tells you that the USCIS has received the petition.
>> Download Form I-130

Step 2: Petition for Alien Fiance, Form I-129F
After you have received the receipt note (Notice of Action - Form I-797), you should file the Petition for Alien Fiance (Form I-129F) for your spouse and children. Send the I-129F petition, supporting documents and a copy of the Form I-797 receipt notice to USCIS. Please refer to the mailing address on their website or the form.

Note: Using Form I-129F ( Petition for Alien Fiance) for K-3 Visa purposes
The I-129 Form, Petition for Alien Fiance is used to obtain a K-3 visa for your alien spouse. Fill out the form as directed, except assume that "fiance" or "fiancee" means "spouse." Note that filing this form is only necessary to facilitate the entry of your spouse as a non-immigrant.

Refer to the form for additional instructions for using I-129F for a non-immigrant visa for your spouse.
>>Download Form I-129F

Step 3: Spouse (and children if applicable) apply for visa in home country
The foreign spouse will go to a US embassy in his/her home country and apply for the K-3 visa, and his/her children will apply for the K-4 visa if applicable.

Step 4: After coming to USA file for Adjustment of status (AOS) by filing I-485
Your spouse must file Form I-485 Application to register as permanent residence or to adjust status with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live in the United States. You must fill out the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, with the USCIS for your spouse's application to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

File the following 2 forms at nearest USCIS Field Office:

Step 5: If you have been married for less than 2 years, file to Remove Conditions on Permanent Status for your spouse
If you have been married for less than 2 years then you most likely have a conditional permanent residence. Which means your new spouse's green card will expire in 2 years. You'll have to file the I-751 petition in order to remove this conditional status.

>>Find Out More On Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence
>>Download I-751 Form - Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence

Who is Eligible for this Visa?

To be eligible for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, an individual must be a person who

  • married to a citizen of the United States
  • has a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) filed by the U.S. citizen spouse for the person
  • seeks to enter the United States to await the approval of the petition and subsequent lawful permanent resident status
  • has an approved Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance, forwarded to the American consulate abroad where the alien wishes to apply for the K-3/K-4 visa. The consulate must be in the country in which the marriage to the U.S. citizen took place if the United States has a consulate which issues immigrant visas in that country. If the marriage took place in the United States, 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.

Applicant Ineligibility for the Visa

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities are:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Overstaying a previous visa
  • Practicing polygamy
  • Advocating the overthrow of the government
  • Submitting fraudulent documents

The consular officer will tell you, the applicant, if you are ineligible for a visa, whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver procedure is.

>>Refer to the Travel.State.Gov article for a complete list of Applicant Ineligibility

Required Documents of the Sponsor for K-3 Petition

Documents Required of the United States citizen who is petitioning his/her fiance to come and live in the U.S. The following needs to be provided at the USCIS field office when filing for petition.

  • Completed and Signed Form 1-130 - Petition for Alien Relative
  • Evidence of Your U.S. Citizenship - Your original U.S. birth certificate, your U.S. passport, your Certificate of Naturalization, or your Certificate of Citizenship. (Please see USCIS Form I-129F for information on the use of copies.)
  • 2 G-325A Forms Biographic Data Sheets - Completed and signed G-325A Forms, one with your information and one with your fiance's.
  • Proof of your relationship - A copy of your marriage certificate.
  • Prior Marriage Nullification Documents - A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees if either you or your fiance have been previously married.
  • Colored Photographs - A passport-style color photo of yourself and a passport-style color photo of your husband or wife, taken within 30 days of the date of this petition. Using pencil or felt pen, lightly print the name (and Alien Registration Number, if known) on the back of each photograph.Find out more about photograph specifications

Required Documents For K-3 Visa Application

The following documents should be provided by your spouse to the US consulate in his/her home country while applying for the K-3 Visa.

  • Two copies of Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • One DS-156K, Nonimmigrant Fiance Visa Application form
  • Police certificates from all places lived in for six months and more, since the age of 16. Applicants whose passports were issued within six months of the visa interview may present just the passport office certificate.
  • Foreign police certificate - All applicants who have resided in any other country for one year or more, since the age of 16 must also submit police certificates for those countries.
  • Birth certificates - Original and photocopy
  • Marriage certificate for spouse - Original and photocopy for all marriage certificate including any terminated marriage too.
  • Death and divorce certificates from any previous spouses
  • Medical examination (except vaccinations)
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States.
  • Two non-immigrant visa photos, two inches/50 X 50 mm square, showing full face, against a light background)
  • Proof of financial support (Form I-134 Affidavit of Support may be requested.)
  • Payment of fees

Tips

  • The consular officer may ask for additional information. It is a good idea to bring marriage photographs and other proof that the marriage is genuine.
  • Documents in foreign languages should be translated. Take clear, legible photocopies of civil documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, to the visa interview. Original documents can then be returned to you.