The US Department of State recently announced a change to the way they process K-3 Visa applications.

In the past, US citizens or lawful permanent resident spouses would use a K-3 visa to bring their husband or wife to the US. Unlike normal spousal visa processing abroad (via form I-130), a K-3 visa only granted the spouse the right to move to the United States for the purpose of applying for a green card via the adjustment of status process. During periods of high I-130 backlog, the K-3 visa was a good choice for families who wished be together in the US.

To get a K-3 visa, the US citizen spouse would file form I-130 in the United States just like he was applying for a full marriage visa. However, as soon as USCIS confirmed receipt of the application, the spouse would then apply for a K-3 visa on form I-129f. Given that I-130’s for marriage visas were processed much slower than I-129f applications, the foreign national spouse would typically receive the K-3 visa even before the marriage visa application was approved.

Recently, however, differences in processing times for the I-130 and I-129f petitions have been almost negligible. As a result, the K-3 visa has lost favor with families and immigration officials alike, prompting a change in the K-3 visa policy.

Effective February 1, 2010, if both the I-129f (K-3) and the I-130 (marriage visa) are approved by USCIS and sent to the National Visa Center, the K-3 visa application will be closed.

If the NVC receives the I-129f first, it will be processed as a K-3 visa and sent to the embassy or consulate where the marriage took place or, if married in the US, where visas are issued for the spouse’s country of nationality.