K4 Visa Application
A K4 visa allows the children of a US citizen's Thai spouse to accompany their parent to the United States. K4 visas are only available if the child's Thai parent successfully applies for a K3 (spouse of a US citizen) visa. A K4 visa allows the child to travel to and from the United States and is valid for two years. Once the child is in the United States they can apply for a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States.
Only unmarried children of a K3 visa applicant who are under 21 years old are eligible for a K4 visa. K4 visa applicants are allowed to study in the United States and may work there once they apply for work authorization.
K4 visas are usually only used to bring a US citizen's stepchildren to the United States. A citizen's biological children under 18 years of age are usually US citizens by birthright, even if they were born outside of the United States. You should get these children US passports by registering them at the US Embassy and applying for passports. Once they receive their US passport they will be free to travel to and from the United States without a visa.
When to Apply for a K4 Visa
K4 visas only only valid while your Thai spouse has a K3 visa. Once your spouse gets a green card (permanent resident visa) and becomes a permanent resident, their children will be ineligible to receive a K4 visa. In order to make sure your family will be able to travel together, you should start every one's immigration process at the same time by filing a separate Form I-130 for everyone moving to the United States.
K4 Visa ProcessSTEP 1: Filing the I-130S
Form I-130 is a petition where a US citizen sponsors a foreigner for immigration. You need to file a Form I-130 with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to start the application process for all K visas. Although you are only required to file an I-130 for your spouse at this point in the process, US Immigration strongly recommends that you file a separate I-130 for everyone applying for a K visa at the same time. Filling an I-130 for everyone will ensure the whole family is allowed to immigrate together.STEP 2: Filing an I-129F
The second step in the K4 visa application process is filling out and filing a Form I-129F, which is a petition for your spouse's K3 visa. You cannot file Form I-129F until USCIS sends you an I-797 confirming they received the I-130 you filed for your spouse. You only need to file one I-129F for the whole family, but make sure to name your spouse's children on the form so that they can receive a K4 visa.
The I-129F petition will make makes its way through the system until it reaches the US Embassy in Bangkok. When the I-129F arrives at the embassy you will receive an instruction packet, sometimes called Packet 3 Instructions, outlining which documents and forms you need to gather to obtain K visas for your spouse and stepchildren.STEP 3: Document Gathering
Once you or your spouse receives the K visa instruction packet from the US Embassy, you should start gathering the required documents and filling out the required forms. The quickest way to complete the K visa application process is to gather K3 documents for your spouse and K4 documents for your stepchildren at the same time. Separate application forms are required for each K visa applicant, so follow the instructions carefully and make sure you submit a set of forms for everyone who needs a K visa.
Everyone applying for a K visa needs to submit a birth certificate. If no birth certificate is available you can use school, hospital or baptismal records instead. Everyone also needs a valid passport and two passport-sized photos.
- Young Children
Your Thai spouse is required to show that they have permanent custody of any minor children applying for K visas. You can satisfy this requirement for children born in wedlock by producing a divorce decree giving your Thai spouse permanent custody of the child, or an official statement from a Thai court or Amphur granting your spouse permanent custody and permission to move the child to the United States permanently. If the child was born out of wedlock a different certificate must be obtained.
- Older Children
If the child applying for the K visa is 16 or older, you also need to obtain a certificate from the police showing whether or not they have a criminal record. You can do this at the same time you get a police certificate for your spouse.
Everyone applying for a K visa needs to complete a medical examination. The US Embassy will provide a list of approved locations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Applicants may be required to receive additional vaccinations before they travel to the United States.
Once the medical examination is complete there will be an interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok. When the embassy schedules the appointment they will let you know who needs to attend and who does not. Although some of the children may be required to come to the interview, their Thai parent will end up answering most if not all of the questions.
After The Visa Is Issued
If the interview is successful all K visas should be available for pickup at the embassy in about two business days. The K4 visa is valid for two years. A K4 visa holder can adjust their immigration status and apply for a green card once they arrive in the United States. The US citizen stepparent must file an I-485 for the child to initiate this process You can only file an I-485 for your stepchild after you file an I-130 on their behalf.
The child's K4 visa can be renewed in two year increments if their green card application is still pending. K4 visas automatically expire the day before the visa holder's 21st birthday, but the visa holder will not lose their immigration status if they already have a I-130 on file.