K3 Visa for Your Thai Spouse
If you are a U.S. citizen with a Thai spouse, you can petition for your spouse to enter the United States with a K3 visa, a CR1 visa or an IR1 visa. The K3 visa application process is generally about 2 months shorter than than the CR1 and IR1 visa application process.
K3 visa holders can enter and exit the United States as many times as they wish as long as their visa remains valid. The K3 visa is valid for 2 years, and can be renewed in two year increments while your spouse applies for a green card. A K4 visa may be available for your spouse’s children. If you want the family to be able to travel together, an application for a K4 visa for your spouse’s unmarried children under 21 should be started at the same time as the K3 visa application by listing the children’s names on the petition.
Your Thai spouse must complete the K3 visa application in Thailand if you were married in Thailand or the United States. If you married a Thai citizen in any other country your spouse must complete the K3 visa application from that country.
You must be a U.S. citizen and legally married for your spouse to be eligible for a K3 visa. U.S. permanent residents are not eligible to sponsor their foreign spouse using a K3 visa but may be able to sponsor a spouse for an F2 visa.
Your spouse will be ineligible for any visa if U.S. immigration officials determine that your spouse has a history of attempting marriages to fraudulently gain immigration status. Your spouse may also be ineligible for certain other medical or criminal reasons. In some cases there may be a waiver to allow your spouse to obtain a visa even with an ineligibility.
Step 1: Filing an I-130
In order for your spouse to be eligible for a K3 visa you must first file a I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The I-130 petition starts the immigration process. When you file the I-130 you will need to attach proof of U.S. citizenship, a copy of your marriage certificate, and passport-size photos of both you and your spouse. You also need to attach evidence that shows your marriage is legitimate, such as documents that show you share bank accounts or property, a lease showing you live together, or affidavits from friends confirming your marriage is heartfelt. If either you or your Thai spouse was previously married, you have to attach a divorce decree, annulment, or death decree to show that you were free to enter your present marriage.
When you complete the I-130 petition and gather the required documents, send them to the USCIS Lockbox in Chicago for processing. Make sure you keep copies of all the documents you send in with the I-130 petition because you will need them later in the K3 visa application process. When USCIS receives your I-130 petition they will send you Form I-797, which confirms that they are processing your I-130 petition.
Step 2: Filing an I-129F
The next step in the K3 visa application process is to fill out and file Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e). You will need to include copies of most of the documents you attached to your I-130 petition.
You must also disclose whether or not you met your spouse through a marriage broker, but it will not disqualify your spouse from receiving a K3 visa. If you have a criminal record that includes violent offenses you will have to disclose them. This information will be disclosed to your spouse during the Embassy interview, so make sure there are no surprises!
Step 3: Submitting Further Documentation to U.S. Embassy in Bangkok
If your petitions are approved, they will be forwarded to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) and then on to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. If the USCIS approves the petition I-130 before or at the same time as the I-129F petition, the visa application will automatically be changed to an application for a CR1 or IR1 visa and you will receive new instructions from the NVC.
After the US Embassy in Thailand receives the approved petitions they will send an extensive list of required documents and visa application forms. At this point you have about two months left in the visa application process. Some of the required documents include your spouse’s passport, birth certificate, and police records from jurisdictions where your spouse has lived.
You will also have to prove that your Thai spouse will be self-supporting or that you will be able to support your spouse. In order to ensure that your Thai spouse will not require government assistance to live in the United States, you must demonstrate that your annual household income is at least 100% of the poverty line. If you and your spouse will be living in the 48 contiguous states and your household will consist of only the two of you, the minimum annual income (as of 2011) is $14,710. The more members of your household, the higher the minimum requirement will be. If you and your spouse will live in Alaska or Hawaii, the required income is slightly higher.
If you make less than required, you can make up the income difference by demonstrating assets (such as real estate, stocks, bonds, and savings accounts) that are at least 5 times the difference between the income required and your annual income. If you have an annual income of $13,610, for example, you can satisfy a $14,710 income requirement by showing that you have $5,500 ($1,100 x 5) in the bank.
If you have no annual income, you can satisfy the income requirement by showing you have assets worth five times the required annual income.
The U.S. Embassy’s job is to detect fraudulent visa applications. You must submit enough proof of your relationship to convince the Embassy that your marriage is legitimate. Telephone records, home videos, photos, emails, and instant messages can all be submitted as proof of your ongoing relationship.
Step 4: Interview and Medical Exam
After the required documents are submitted, the embassy will schedule a visa interview at the embassy with your spouse. Before the interview your spouse will be required to submit to a medical examination, which can be conducted at designated locations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Your spouse may also be required to undergo additional vaccinations.
The final step in the K3 visa application process is an interview with a visa officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. This can take several hours. The visa officer will review your spouse’s documentation and attempt to confirm that your relationship is sincere. If you have a criminal record they will reveal this to your Thai spouse during the interview. If your spouse’s K3 visa is approved, it should be available about two business days after the interview.
After K3 Visa Is Issued
Once the K3 visa has been issued, your spouse is free to travel to and from the United States for two years. Once in the United States, your spouse can apply for a green card and become a permanent U.S. resident. Your spouse can renew the K3 visa in 2 year increments while the green card application is pending.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Siam Legal is a full service law firm but it has an extensive range of immigration, corporate, and real estate experience accessible to clients both domestically and internationally. It has offices strategically located throughout the major cities in Thailand including Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Samui and Phuket along with international representative offices in Australia, London and Las Vegas.