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What Happens After One Arrives in the U.S. With a K-3 or K-4 Visa

If you have arrived in the U.S. with a K-3 visa, you must present the sealed packet containing the civil documents you provided to the U.S. Consulate, and your passport containing the visa. It is important to note that a visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S., and legal admission is dependent on the discretion of the Customs and Border Patrol Officials.

Once admitted to the U.S., K-3 non-immigrants may apply to adjust their status to permanent resident at any time during the 2 year period their visa is valid for. Once K-4 non-immigrants are admitted they may file an application for adjustment of status concurrently with or at any time after an I-130 petition has been filed on his or her behalf by the U.S. citizen petitioner, if the marriage took place before the K-4 holder’s 18th birthday and within the valid time period of their K-4 visa.

Employment authorization is available to K-3 and K-4 non-immigrant visa holders upon admission to the U.S., however they must file an I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). The EAD (Employment Authorization Documents) will not be renewed unless the K-3 or K-4 visa holder makes a showing of intention to stay, such as the filing of an I-485 or I-130. 8 CFR 214.2 (k) (9) Upon filing for an adjustment of status, K-3 and K-4 non-immigrant visa holders may also apply for employment authorization based on that pending application even if the K-3 or K-4 non-immigrant status expires.

Once the K-3 visa holder has entered the U.S. they are eligible to apply for an adjustment of status (an I-485 immigrant visa). They do not have to be in valid non-immigrant status as long as they are still married to the U.S. citizen and entered the country legally. It is important to note that the I-130 need not be approved before the filing of the I-485. As well, the admitted K-3 visa holder may apply for consular processing, if they prefer, for economic or convenience reasons.

The K-3 and K-4 visas are valid for 2 years, however extensions of status are granted for additional 2 years intervals but only if the U.S. citizen spouse has not received an I-130 approval or the K-3 has filed for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status and has not yet received an approval. If the I-130 has been approved, the K-3, in order to gain an extension must file the immigrant visa or adjustment of status or show “good cause” as to why he/she has not done so. Good cause “may include illness, a job loss, or some other catastrophic event or some other catastrophic event.” 8 CFR 214.2 (k) (10) Extensions for K-4 visa holders must be filed concurrently with the K-3 extension. In addition, the U.S. citizen parent of the K-4 holder should file an I-130 on behalf of the K-4 if a qualifying step-child relationship exists.


For more detailed information on K-3/K-4, including minimum requirements and USCIS policies, please click on the relevant links on this page: