Why are some K3 visa applications converted to CR1 visa applications?
US K3 and CR1 visas are both for spouses of US citizens. But there are differences in the application process for the two types of spouse visas. K3 visa applications involve the submission of both Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, sometimes called the I-130 packet, and Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), sometimes called the I-129 packet. The K3 visa can be issued when processing of the I-129 packet is complete. Then the K3 visa holder can apply for US permanent resident status within the US and wait for processing to be completed there. On the other hand, the CR1 visa gives the CR1 visa holder conditional permanent resident status and only requires that the I-130 packet be submitted. While you might wonder why anyone would want to apply for a K3 visa instead of a CR1 visa, it all comes down to timing.
Usually a K3 visa will be issued before a CR1 visa. The I-130 packet often takes longer to process even though it must be submitted first. However, sometimes I-130 packet processing is completed before that of the I-129 packet. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) often changes the way they process various packets in attempts to improve efficiency and speed the application process. Sometimes the two packets will be routed to different service centers for processing to avoid a backlog. In other cases one packet might just be processed by a more efficient staff person.
When the I-130 packet is approved before the I-129 packet, the application is converted to a CR1 visa application and the K3 application is administratively closed by the USCIS. In some cases, if you have been married for more than 2 years, your K3 visa application could even be converted to an IR1 visa application. If you are granted an IR1 visa, you will receive US legal permanent resident status without conditions. If the I-129 is approved first, then the K3 visa application continues as it was originally filed. Either way, the USCIS attempts to process your documents as quickly as possible and forward them to the Embassy so the visa application can move forward.
If the USCIS converts your K3 visa application to a CR1 visa application, you or your legal representative will receive a notice informing you of the change and giving you additional instructions. If you sign up for electronic notification you may receive this information more quickly. This is generally good news, because you will receive your conditional permanent resident status along with your visa and will not have to apply for it when you arrive in the US. If your K3 visa application is converted to a CR1 visa application and you have questions that are not answered by the notice you receive, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney at Siam Legal. The K3 and CR1 visa application process is complicated and frequently changes, so it can be confusing if you are not a professional.
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