What Visa Should I Use to Reunite with My Spouse in the US?

US K3 visa and I-130 Immigrant VisaK3 Visa vs. I-130 Immigrant Visa:

When a Thai national is married to an American and have decided to travel and immigrate to the US, there are several processes that the couple can play out to eventually get there. There is no shortcut about bringing the foreign spouse to the US. Depending on the circumstances and future plans of the couple, they can weigh things down and decide which visa is best for them.

2 Types of Spouse Visa:

  • US K3 Visa
  • US I-130 Immigrant Visa


For the Thai spouse to reunite with their US citizen partner in the US, it is either the marriage-based I-130 route or the alternate K3 that is usually taken. Having a deeper understanding on these types of visa should point you out to the right direction.

By doing the US K3 visa, you don’t have to go through and wait for the whole immigration visa application process while staying (and waiting) in Thailand. This is a non-immigrant visa and the process requires a petition for an Adjustment of Status to become a permanent resident.

The I-130 visa, on the other hand, grants the holder an immigrant status which means the holder immediately receives legal permanent residency permit upon arrival in the US.

Other Factors to Consider

There are other indicators as to which visa type would serve the better advantage for your situation. When deciding between the immigrant visa (I-130) and non-immigrant visa (K3 Visa), it is crucial to examine the following grounds:

  1. The processing time

    From the time when the petition is initially submitted to USCIS, then later forwarded to NVC, and finally sent to US Embassy in Bangkok, K3 visa process generally takes 6 to 8 months.

    The CR-1 visa has a longer processing time and usually takes a year or so before the applicant can enter the US. This covers process from the filing of I-130 form to successfully getting through the interview with US embassy officer.

  2. Sponsor eligibility

    The US citizen spouse is the only petitioner allowed to sponsor the K3 visa application while in the case of CR-1 visa petitions, any US citizens or lawful permanent residents can co-sponsor with the principal sponsor (usually the US citizen spouse) to support the CR-1 application.

  3. Duration to get green card

    For US K3 visa holders to finally obtain a green card, the process to apply for adjustment of status takes a longer duration.

    On the contrary, CR-1 visa has a shorter period when applying for an adjustment of status. Once the visa is approved, the visa holder can enter the US and is free to work or study. The green card then arrives in the mail after a few months.

  4. Working in the US

    Foreign citizens who enter the country under K3 visa can work freely in the US after they have secured their social security card and EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

    CR-1 visa holder is allowed to work right there and then after arrival in the US

See CR-1 visa application.


Category: US Immigration, US Spouse Visa

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.


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