On December 21, 2002, the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (LIFE) extended K visa benefits to the spouse and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens by creating the new K3 visa, which allows spouses and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens to live and work in the United States while waiting to get their permanent residence status. Prior to LIFE, the K visa was only available to the fiancé of a U.S. citizen and his children.
Qualifications: The K-3 visa is available to current and future spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of U.S. citizens who are awaiting processing of their green card petitions outside the U.S. To qualify the applicant needs to have a U.S. citizen petition on his or her behalf.
Benefits: K-3 visa holders can legally reside and work in the U.S. while waiting for the review of their permanent residency applications. The ability to adjust status and a much quicker entry into U.S. are big benefits for unmarried children of (18 or older but under 21) U.S. citizens who are not the natural children of the petitioning spouse. Prior to LIFE, such children waited for years for the approval of their visas.
Procedure: Where the marriage has taken place abroad, K-3 visa applicants must apply for their visas at the U.S. consulate in the country where the marriage occurred. If the petitioner is in the U.S., he will file from within the country and notice of approval will be forwarded to the U.S. consulate.
Unlawful presence and inadmissibility: The unlawful presence entry bars apply. If the applicant were inadmissible on any grounds, he would require a waiver under section 212(d)(3)(A) and a finding that the applicant would be eligible for a waiver at the adjustment of status interview. For applicants facing inadmissibility charges, the risk of applying at a U.S. consulate is great.