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Unique Scenarios for K-3 and K-4 Visa Holders


If your K-4 child turns 21 before they obtain their immigrant status, they lose their K-4 visa status. The general rule is that K-4 visa holders will be admitted into the U.S. for 2 years or until the day of their 21st birthday, whichever comes first. However, they may continue to be eligible for an adjustment of status under the Child Status Protection Act if they qualify as the child of a U.S. citizen under the immigration laws. To qualify as the child of a U.S. citizen under the immigration laws the marriage between the child’s foreign parent and the U.S. citizen must have taken place before the child’s 18th birthday. Their K-4 status will expire when they turn 21 years old, unless the U.S. citizen files an I-130 petition to adjust their child’s status within the U.S. before their 21st birthday. AFM at 21.2 (e) (2) (i)

Foreign Children Who May Not Qualify as the Legal Children of a U.S. Citizen:

The regulations do not directly address the issue of whether a minor child may apply for a K-4 visa when the marriage between their foreign parent and the U.S. citizen takes place after the child has already turned 18 years old. USCIS takes the position that eligibility for K-4 status hinges on the ultimate eligibility to obtain permanent residence as an immediate relative, therefore the child is not eligible for K-4 status. There is debate surrounding the issue of whether such a child could remain eligible for K-4 status as the dependent of a K-3 visa holder until they are 21, or until the K-3 obtains permanent residency, even if there is no ultimate eligibility for permanent residency based on the immediate relative petition.


Your children may travel with you to the U.S. or travel later. Just as you must travel within the time frame of the K-3 visa’s validity, so too, must your children travel within the time frame of their K-4 visas. If your children travel more than 1 year after the date your K-3 visa was issued, they will not be eligible to receive K-4 visas, and separate immigrant petitions will be required.


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