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Practice Note
National Benefit Center Implementing Plan to Reduce K-3 Backlog

On September 14, 2004, National Benefits Center sent a message to AILA in response to AILA*s inquiries about the extreme slow-down in K-3 processing times. 

In the message NBC stated that it is currently implementing a plan to significantly decrease their backlog of I-129F K3 Petitions. NBC management held a special meeting last week to discuss this issue, and their adjudication staff has already begun to redirect resources to address the large number of pending I-129Fs. More specifically, they have calculated how many petitions need to be adjudicated and how many adjudicators are needed to complete this work in a reasonable amount of time. NBC is confident that AILA members should see the effects of this initiative soon.


The slowing down in processing K-3 applications has extends painful waiting to many applicants for this category.  The original legislative purpose of this category is to reduce the separation period between U.S. citizens and their spouses by allowing the spouse to come to the U.S. while the I-130 visa petition is in processing.  The backlog, however, has tremendously discounted the usefulness of this category.  To apply for K-3,


A.                The alien must be married to a U.S. citizen who has filed an I-130 petition for an immigrant visa (IR1) on behalf of the alien.

B.                 The U.S. citizen petitioner must also file a second petition, the I-129F, with BCIS for a non-immigrant visa (K3) on behalf of the alien spouse. The I-129F must be filed in the United States. This second petition must be approved by BCIS before the alien can begin K3 visa processing overseas. The K3 visa must be issued in the country where the marriage took place, if the marriage occurred outside of the United States.

C.                The alien must be seeking to enter the United States to await "the availability of an immigrant visa." While visa numbers are of course not limited for spouses of U.S. citizens, the BCIS rule requires an alien who enters the U.S. as a K3 to continue to pursue the immigration process by having an I-130 petition or an adjustment of status pending approval by BCIS. To ensure that K3s are actively pursuing immigration, BCIS will grant only a two-year admission period when the K3 enters the United States. Similarly, work authorization will be granted in two-year increments.

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