K-3 Visa Application Process

US Visa in Thailand

The K-3 visa permits the spouse of a US citizen to enter the United States on a temporary legal basis while they wait for permanent residency, also known as a green card. The K-3 visa remains valid for a period of two years starting from its date of issue.

However, the process for applying for a K-3 Marriage Visa for a Thai spouse is complicated. On average, processing a K-3 visa takes around 19 months, which is roughly the same duration as the approval process for a marriage green card application by USCIS.

Step 1: K-3 Marriage Visa in Thailand (USCIS petition)

This is the very first step in the K-3 Visa process. As the petitioner, you have to gather all the required documents to prepare for the K-3 Marriage Visa Petition. These include:

  • Documents pertaining to your citizenship
  • Legality of your marriage
  • Financial position
  • The identity of your Thai spouse being petitioned
  • Marriage certificate
  • Income tax
  • Other pertinent documents are among the documents to be included in your petition

For detailed information on the K-3 Visa’s eligibility requirements, click here.

To file an I-130 petition for your spouse, follow these guidelines based on your area of residence:

  1. Petitioners Residing in These Areas:
    • Alaska (AK), Arizona (AZ), California (CA), Colorado (CO), Guam, Hawaii (HI), Idaho (ID), Illinois (IL), Indiana (IN), Iowa (IA), Kansas (KS), Michigan (MI), Minnesota (MN), Missouri (MO), Mississippi (MS), Montana (MT), Nebraska (NE), Nevada (NV), North Dakota (ND), Ohio (OH), Oregon (OR), South Dakota (SD), Utah (UT), Washington (WA), Wisconsin (WI), Wyoming (WY)
    • Must File Stand-Alone Form I-130 at:
      • USCIS
        P.O. Box 804625
        Chicago, IL 60680-4107
  2. Petitioners Residing in These Areas:
    • Alabama (AL), Arkansas (AR), Connecticut (CT), Delaware (DE), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Kentucky (KY), Louisiana (LA), Maine (ME), Maryland (MD), Massachusetts (MA), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New Mexico (NM), New York (NY), North Carolina (NC), Oklahoma (OK), Pennsylvania (PA), Puerto Rico, Rhode Island (RI), South Carolina (SC), Tennessee (TN), Texas (TX), Vermont (VT), Virginia (VA), U.S.US Virgin Islands, West Virginia (WV), District of Columbia.
    • Must File Stand-Alone Form I-130 at:
      • USCIS
        P.O. Box 804616
        Chicago, IL 60680-4107
  3. Filing a Follow-Up Petition (I-129F):
    • Procedure:
      • Mail your petition to the Service Center where your underlying I-130 petition is currently pending (note the P.O. Box).
      • Use the address listed on your most recent receipt notice or transfer notice.
      • Include a copy of that notice in your Form I-129F.

Step 2: K-3 Visa (National Benefits Center)

Once USCIS has given you a notice of receipt of your petition you can file your K-3 Visa petition with the National Benefits Center (NBC) of the USCIS.

The NBC processes all K-3 Visa applications in the United States. There is only one center so it makes no difference where you live.

Step 3: K-3 Visa (National Visa Center)

Once NBC has approved your petition it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then process the K-3 Visa petition and forward it to the US Embassy in Bangkok.

Your Thai spouse will be notified by the US Embassy about the pending K-3 Visa and a date will be set for the interview. Other issues could arise if your spouse has ever had any immigration issues in the United States or if they have a criminal record. Thankfully, these issues can be worked around with a successful I-601 Waiver.

Step 4: K-3 Visa (US Embassy Bangkok)

Once your Thai spouse has had their interview at the US Embassy in Thailand and has been granted a K-3 visa, they will be able to come live with you in the United States. As the K-3 Visa is a "multiple entry" visa, they can travel using their K-3 Visa, and they can obtain permission to work with their K-3 visa.

Once in the United States, it is best to apply for an Adjustment of Status to ensure that they become a legal permanent resident (or at least have an application filed to become a legal permanent resident) before their K-3 marriage visa expires.

Step 5: Apply for Green Card

Once your K-3 visa is approved, you can travel to the US and apply for your green card at any time, using Form I-485 based on your pending or approved Form I-130. It's recommended to apply for employment authorization and a travel permit alongside your green card application.

Without these, working in the US might be delayed by about four months after green card approval. Employment authorization is applied for with Form I-765, which can be submitted after arriving in the US.

Can a Thai spouse holding a K-3 marriage visa travel outside the US?

Yes, they are free to travel outside the United States. No advance parole is needed for traveling outside the US. The K-3 Visa and derivative K-4 Visa are valid for 2 years and allow for multiple entries into the country.

Do the children of a K-3 Visa Applicant also receive status?

Yes, your unmarried children under 21 can obtain K-4 Visas through Form I-129F. Remember to include them as dependents in your petition. For each child, you'll need to complete a separate visa application and pay the respective K-4 Visa fees.

Once in the United States, your children are required to file their own adjustment of status applications independently. They cannot be added to your Form I-485. For Adjustment of Status eligibility, your child must have been younger than 18 years at the time of your marriage.

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Ken Graham

Ken Graham
US Immigration Attorney
Partner, Siam Legal International

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Linda Pringpuangkeo

Linda Pringpuangkeo
Senior US Visa Consultant
Siam Legal International

For Thai language assistance call:

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