It Seems the K-3 Visa Has Become a Dinosaur
Published: February 22, 2010

Frankly, I never understood the point of the K-3/K-4 visa, a temporary visa that allows overseas spouses and children of U.S. citizens to enter the U.S. while awaiting final processing of their I-130 immigrant visa petitions. Back when the K-3/K-4 visa was introduced, processing times for I-130 visa petitions for these family members was getting out of control, with delays stretching to almost a year. So, to remedy the problem, Congress invented the K-3/K-4, a new visa that would not be subject to the same delays, and would allow spouses/children of U.S. citizens to be reunited in the U.S. sooner than otherwise possible. As a humble observer, I saw a much easier remedy than creating another visa category and paper wasting opportunity: just assign more workers to process the I-130 petition backlog – and magically, the problem of backlogs – and thus the need for the K-3 – would disappear. For whatever reason this obvious, common sense notion never made its way into the conversation of the prime decision makers, and as a result, the K-3/K-4 visa took off. An already complicated U.S. immigration process became even more complicated.

In the past year or so, the backlog for the processing of I-130 petitions for overseas spouses and children of U.S. citizens has been reduced significantly, with CIS Service Center processing taking anywhere from 2 to 4 months. Consequently, it seems, the need for the K-3/K-4 no longer exists since, within just a couple months following visa petition approval, an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. consular post abroad is a realistic possibility. Consistent with this reality, the U.S. Department of State, as of February 1, 2010 announced that it will no longer process K-3/K-4 visas if the underlying I-130 petition has been approved by a CIS Service Center.

Although there was usually never a downside to filing the K-3/K-4 petition while an I-130 petition remained pending (it costed nothing), U.S. citizens should no longer count on it as an avenue to facilitate their overseas spouse and children’s arrival into the U.S. Common sense, it appears, has prevailed.

Copyright © 2010, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois