K visas, under the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (LIFE Act) and its amendments, allow the spouse and unmarried children (below the age of 21 years) of a U.S. citizen to enter, live and work in the U.S. as non-immigrants until they receive lawful permanent resident status. The spouse receives a K-3 visa and the children receive a K-4 visas.
You can receive a K-3 (Spouse) visa if:
- You have married a U.S. citizen.
- Your U.S. citizen spouse has filed Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS for you.
- You want to enter the U.S. to wait for the approval of the petition to become a lawful permanent resident.
- You have forwarded an approved Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé) to the U.S. Consulate (which issues immigrant visas) in the country where you were married. If you were married in the U.S., the approved petition has to be forwarded to a consulate which has jurisdiction over the area where you reside.
You can receive a K-4 (Child) visa if:
- You are unmarried and under the age of 21 years.
- You are the child of a foreign national who is eligible for a K-3 visa.
The advantage to obtaining a K-3/K-4 non-immigrant visa is that you are allowed to work in the U.S. while waiting to adjust your status to a lawful permanent resident. However, to do this you must have employment authorization.
Note: You will not need to apply for a work permit after you have become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. because you will receive a permanent resident card which allows you to permanently live and work in the U.S. Your valid K-3/K-4 non-immigrant visa allows you to travel outside of and return to the U.S., even if you are still waiting for your permanent resident status.