Spouse visas are one of the popular U.S. visa categories. With one of such visas, a Thai spouse can secure entry into the U.S. The popular K-3 visa is among these visas. Other spouse visas in this category include the IR1 visa and the CR1 visa. With anyone of these visas, a Thai citizen can easily reunite with their spouse in the U.S.
The U.S K-3 visa, as well as the IR1 and CR1 visa, can be very difficult to process. To begin with, the three spouse visas share a lot of similarities. The particular type of visa suitable for you will depend on your own needs. This article will offer you a simple insight into the K-3 visa in Thailand.
Who is a ‘Spouse’ according to the K-3 visa?
The U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines a ‘spouse’ as a legally wedded husband or wife. Going by this, cohabitating partners or ’common law marriage’ partners do not qualify as spouses.
A previously married spouse must show evidence that the marriage has been legally terminated. If a polygamous marriage exists, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration purposes.
The difference between the U.S K-3 visa and other spouse visas
It has already been mentioned that the K-3 visa is one of the spouse visas available to Thai citizens and their American spouse. There are others though:
- A CR1 Visa (Conditional Resident Visa)
This is a permanent resident visa that gives the Thai spouse entry to the U.S as a conditional permanent resident. The Thai resident will be issued a ‘Green Card’ and will also be given a work permit. Upon entry, the Thai spouse will be allowed to remain in the US indefinitely. This permanent residence is however based on the condition that the marriage must last for at least 2 years. After 2 years, the U.S. citizen may then petition for a lift of the condition.
- An IR1 Visa (Immediate Relative Visa)
Unlike the CR1 visa, this type of spouse visa grants the recipient an unconditional permanent resident. Thus, as a Thai spouse, you will be granted a work permit and be allowed to live indefinitely in the U.S.
What exactly is the K-3 US visa?
Generally, the process involved in applying for the U.S CR1 or IR1 visa is a long and tedious one. The K-3 U.S. visa was specially set up to reduce the physical separation between the U.S citizen and their foreign spouse.
This allows the foreign spouse to apply for a non-immigrant K3 visa to reside in the US while the immigrant CR1 visa is being processed. The recipient of the K-3 visa can later apply to adjust their status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) upon approval of the petition.
The U.S K-3 visa is only valid for 2 years during which it is expected that an immigrant visa would have been granted. Notwithstanding this, the K-3 visa may be renewed for another 2 years. The K-3 visa may however be revoked if the application for Lawful Permanent Residence (Form I-130) gets rejected or if the marriage is terminated.
Eligibility for the U.S K-3 spouse visa in Thailand
As a Thai citizen, there are three basic eligibility rules you must first fulfill in order to qualify for the K-3 visa. These are:
- You must be legally married to your American spouse,
- The marriage between you and your Thai wife must be valid, meaning that it has met all the requirements to have a valid marriage in Thailand or the country/jurisdiction where you married, and were not subject to any impediment (such as a non-terminated prior marriage) to your ability to marry at that time.
- The spouse who is a U.S. citizen must financially meet certain income requirements. The most recent tax return must show that the gross income is at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Your American spouse must have filed the Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for you; and
- Your intention is to reside in the U.S pending the decision of the USCIS on your Form I-130.
Can my spouse bring their children to the US with a K3 visa?
Children of a ‘foreign’ spouse can also benefit from the marriage visa. This is possible under the U.S K-4 visa. The U.S K-4 visa will allow the children to reside in the U.S.
For eligibility, the children must however be:
- Under 21 years of age;
- Unmarried; and
- The child of the K-3 visa applicant.
The K-4 visa will not only offer the children the opportunity to live in the U.S., but they will also be able to go to school and apply for naturalization if they qualify for citizenship.
The process involved in applying for the K-3 visa
There are two basic steps involved in applying for the K-3 visa in Thailand. These steps will be sufficiently examined here.
Step 1: Filing of the Petition in the US
The U.S K-3 visa in Thailand begins with the spouse in the U.S. filing a Form I-129F with the USCIS. The Form I-129F is a “Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)” that is also applicable to spouses of U.S. citizens.
Documents required to be attached to the Form I-129F includes:
- The passport or proof of citizenship of the spouse’s that is a U.S. citizen,
- The passport of the foreign spouse,
- Marriage certificate of the couple,
- Proof of termination of previous marriages,
- Receipt notice of action for the Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative),
- I-94 record (Proof of arrival/departure in the U.S, if applicable),
- One passport-style photograph of the U.S. citizen spouse,
- One passport-style photograph of the foreign spouse.
One of the advantages of the U.S K-3 visa is that no filing fee is required for the filing of the I-129F petition for spouses. A notice of receipt is usually sent to the applicant within 30 days of the application.
Once the USCIS has approved your petition it is forwarded to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will then process the K3 Marriage Visa petition and forward it to the US Embassy in Bangkok.
Step 2: Filing of the Application at the US Embassy
After the USCIS approves the Form I-129F, an email will be sent to the Thai citizen from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. The next step is the filing of the DS-160 is an online non-immigrant visa application form for temporary travel to the United States and paying the embassy fee.
After filing the DS-160 and payment of the embassy fee, the applicant may now submit the Packet 3 and request for the visa interview. This interview is usually scheduled about 4 to 6 weeks from the date of the correspondence from the U.S embassy in Thailand.
Along with the confirmation page after filling the DS-160 form, other documents to take with you to the interview (Packet 4) include:
- Marriage certificate of the couple,
- Proof of relationship: This may include a copy of the pending Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) or other proof like wedding photographs, etc.,
- Your valid passport as a citizen of Thailand,
- Your birth certificate,
- Affidavit of support (Form I-864) filed by your American spouse,
- Police clearance obtained from countries you resided in for more than six months since the age of 16,
- Sealed medical exam certificate,
- Recent tax returns of your American spouse,
- Two passport-style photographs.
- Evidence of payment of the filing fee.
Let a professional handle your K-3 visa application
Applying for any kind of spouse visa can be very stressful. Even deciding on the spouse visa suitable for you is not an easy task. Eligibility for the various kinds of spouse visas varies and you may need the service of a professional to point you in the right direction.
The team of experienced lawyers and professionals at Siam Legal International specialize in US Immigration especially K-1 fiancé/fiancée and K-3 spouse applications in Thailand. Over the years, our skilled attorneys have helped Thai citizens and their American lovers process a significant number of visa applications.
Our team members include English and Thai legal experts and professionals that are well-versed in the application process for U.S. visas in Thailand.