US K3 Spouse Visa
Starting your K3 Visa application process in Thailand for your Thai spouse
When a US citizen marries the Thai fiancée in the USA or in Thailand, the Thai fiancée goes back to Thailand, the US citizen applies to the Service Center for an I-130 spousal visa petition for his new Thai spouse.
The US citizen will be notified by mail of the notice of receipt from the service center for the I-130 petition of the Thai Spouse. The US citizen files an I 129F petition to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox for a K3 visa application from Thailand. The USCIS forwards an approved I-129F to the State Department, which forwards it to the embassy.
The final stage of the K3 Visa Thailand (Thai Spouse) process is similar to a K1 Visa Thailand (Thai Fiancée) visa process. The K3 Thai spouse awaits the approval of the I 130 petition in order to adjust her status.
Who is eligible for a K3 Visa Thailand?
The K3 visa Thailand is specifically intended for use by U.S. citizens who are sponsoring their foreign national spouse for immigration. It was created to address the long processing times for immigration visas at the USCIS. The K3 visa Thailand is therefore actually a "non-immigration" visa, meaning that receipt of a K3 visa does not result in the spouse becoming a legal permanent resident immediately upon their arrival in the U.S. However, the K3 visa from Thailand does allow the spouse to travel to the U.S. and live with their U.S. citizen husband or wife while they are waiting for their immigration application to sponsor their spouse to process through. They can also bring their unmarried children who are under 21 along using the related "K4" visa Thailand (however, please note that ordinarily it will be necessary for the U.S. citizen to file separate I-130 petitions for those minor children at some point in order for them to become legal permanent residents).
The basic eligibility requirements for the K3 visa Thailand are as follows:
- The sponsoring husband or wife must be a U.S. citizen, and the beneficiary must be their spouse;
- There must be a pending immigration petition naming the foreign spouse as a beneficiary on file with the USCIS;
- The marriage between the U.S. citizen and foreign spouse must be valid, meaning that they have met all requirements to have a valid marriage in the country/jurisdiction where they married, and were not subject to any impediment (such as a non-terminated prior marriage) to their ability to marry at that time.
After obtaining a K3 visa in Thailand, the foreign spouse (and their unmarried minor children, using the K4 visa) can travel to the U.S. and live with their spouse for up to 2 years. Presumably, during that time the USCIS will approve the immigration petition filed by the U.S. sponsor and/or the spouse will be able to apply for adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident.
The K3 visa from Thailand is not as ideal as being able to quickly obtain a spousal immigration visa would be. However, given the lengthy processing times at most USCIS service centers, it is a welcome alternative to the spouse being forced to live outside the U.S. for an extended period, and has already helped many families reunite.
Overview of the K3 visa application process:
The process for applying for a K3 visa Thailand is somewhat complicated. The first step is to file an immigration petition for the foreign spouse. This will involve gathering substantial amounts of information about both the foreign spouse and the U.S. citizen spouse. Although it is not technically required for the spouse's children to receive a K4 visa, it is best to go ahead and file immigration petitions for them as well. If the children are not biologically the children of the U.S. citizen spouse, then it is necessary to analyze the facts of the marriage to ensure that the U.S. spouse can successfully sponsor them for immigration. In most cases, this will be possible, but the rules in this area can be complex.
The immigration petition should be filed with one of the two (2) USCIS regional service centers responsible for processing such petitions: the Vermont Service Center or California Service Center. Which service center you should file the immigration petition with depends on the state where you live. The California Service Center is currently processing the fastest for K1 Visa Thailand and K3 Visa Thailand.
After you receive a formal USCIS receipt or equivalent proof that you have filed the immigration petition, you can then file a K3 visa petition with the USCIS' National Benefits Center ("NBC"). Unlike other immigration petitions (including K1 visa Thailand petitions), the National Benefits Center processes all K3 visa applications in the United States, so your K3 visa Thailand petition will go there regardless of where you live in the United States.
After the NBC processes and approves your K3 visa Thailand petition, it will forward it to the National Visa Center ("NVC"). The NVC will in turn forward it on to the relevant consulate. Your spouse (and their/your minor children) will have to attend a visa interview at that US Embassy in Bangkok (technically, you do not have to attend the interview, although it is best if you do for moral support). At the consular interview, the K3 interviewing officer at the US Embassy in Thailand usually will focus on verifying the bona fide nature of your relationship with your spouse and on your ability to support your spouse and their/your children if they are admitted to the United States. However, other issues can arise if your spouse has ever had any immigration issues in the United States or if they have any kind of criminal history in Thailand.
Once your spouse has been granted a K3 visa from Thailand, they will be able to come live with you in the United States. Because the K3 visa from Thailand is a "multiple entry" visa, they can travel using their K3 visa, and they can obtain permission to work with their K3 visa. However, if possible, once they arrive you should ordinarily pursue an adjustment of status application based on their pending immigration petition as soon as possible in order to help ensure that they become a legal permanent resident (or at least have an application to become a legal permanent resident pending) before their K3 visa from Thailand expires. It is also possible (and probably best) to secure permission for them to work and travel related to their adjustment of status application, rather than simply relying on their K3 visa Thailand. Similar considerations apply for your spouse's/your minor children if they come to the U.S. on a K4 visa from Thailand.
If you wish to apply for a Spouse Visa, it is highly recommended to apply for a CR-1 Visa instead of a K3 Visa. The K-3 has mostly been phased out and replaced by the CR-1 Visa. Please click here for more information.
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