Preparing for K-3 Marriage-Based Visa Interview

What the foreign-born spouse should expect at the personal meeting with a U.S. consular officer.

If you are applying for a K-3 visa to enter the U.S. as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, here is what to expect in the phase between USCIS approval of the Form I-129F visa petition and your interview at the U.S. consulate in your country of marriage.

USCIS will, upon approving the I-129F petition, forward your file to a central processing facility called the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will transfer the case file to the U.S. consulate in the country where you were married. The consulate will then send the immigrant an Appointment Package containing forms and instructions.

Filling Out Form DS-160

You will be asked to fill out State Department Form DS-160 online in preparation for your interview. Next, the consulate will send you approximately two to four weeks' notice of the upcoming interview. You (the intending   immigrant) will receive an appointment date, along with instructions for getting a medical exam and taking care of other last details, and possibly forms (depending on the consulate).

Also, the people handling your case will request a security clearance from every place you’ve lived since age 16. Usually, they simply ask a government office to check its records to see whether you have a police record, and to send notification of what it finds. They will also send your name to be checked against the records of the U.S. FBI and CIA. Assuming your records come back clean, the consulate will move to the next step

Medical Exam

To prove that the intending immigrant is not inadmissible for medical reasons, he or she will have to present the results of a medical exam done by a doctor approved by the U.S. consulate. This is the same type of medical exam you would have to have if you were applying for a marriage-based immigrant visa, except that you won’t be required to complete all your vaccinations until you are in the United States and applying for your green card.

There will be a fee for the medical exam, usually around $150, but it varies between doctors and countries.

Birth Certificates

The immigrant, as well as any of children who will be accompanying him or her on K-4 visas, will be asked to provide copies of birth certificates, and to show the originals as well. If these documents are not in English, you will need to provide a word-for-word translation, created and signed by someone competent in both languages.  

Proof of Bona Fide Marriage

Some consulates also want to see proof that the immigrant and spouse are truly a married couple—in other words, that you did not get married merely in order to get a green card. Such proof might include copies of your personal letters, emails, phone bills, wedding photos, joint credit card bills, and the like.

Where You Will Take Your K-3 Appointment Package

On the day of the interview, the immigrant will be expected to arrive at the U.S. consulate with documents in hand, according to the instructions. To prepare for the interview, the immigrant will want to read over all the forms and documents and mentally review key facts about the marriage, such as where you met, when and why you decided to get married, when the U.S. spouse's birthday is, your plans for life in the U.S., and so on.

The U.S. citizen is not required to attend this interview, but can. This may help show bona fide marriage, which is an important thing to prove.

Visa Approval

Soon after attending the interview and being approved, the consulate will give the immigrant a K-3 visa with which to enter the United States. Ideally you will receive the visa within a few days of your interview, but delays for FBI and CIA security checks dan add weeks to the process, especially for people with common names.

The “visa” will actually be a thick sealed envelope, stuffed full of most of the forms and documents that you have submitted over the course of this process. Once you receive your K-3 visa, you will have six months to enter the United States. The visa will be good for multiple entries to the United States for up to ten years, or in the case of children, for up to the child’s 21st birthday.

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