K-3 Spousal Visas
Marriage Visas (K-3 & CR-1 Visas)
A. K-3 Visa (the old):
The K-3 Visa was formerly used to bring a spouse of a US citizen to the United States. Once the visa was issued, the spouse came to the US and was given 2 years to apply for a Green Card. However, the U.S. State Department is no longer processing the K-3 Visa. To bring your spouse to the US, you now need to apply for a CR-1 Visa. The CR-1 visa has a big advantage over the K-3 Visa in that your spouse gets his/her visa and Green Card simultaneously. In the process, you save time and money.
B. CR-1 Visa (the new):
1. What is it?
Foreign spouses of U.S. citizens, and their children, can come to the United States on a CR-1 (for the spouse) and CR-2 (for the children) visa. The CR-1 visa has replaced the old K-3 visa. With a CR-1 visa, your spouse gets his/her visa and Green Card all in one process. This saves time and money, and is a big advantage over the old K-3 visa. It takes about 6-8 months to obtain a CR-1 visa. .
2. What are the requirements for me to apply for a CR-1 Visa?
(a) You must be a U.S. citizen (so that your spouse qualifies as an immediate relative);
(b) you must be legally married to your spouse.
(c) You must meet minimum income requirements; if you do not have adequate income, you can use a joint sponsor;
3. How do I apply for the CR-1 Visa?
Applying for a CR-1 visa involves a three-step process:
(a) First, you file a Form I-130 Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, with all necessary supporting documentation. This is filed with the designated USCIS mail center;
(b) Once you are notified of petition approval, your file is forwarded to the National Visa Center, at which point you must submit forms for both you and your spouse.
(c) The National Visa Center approves your paperwork and sets an interview for your spouse at the consulate in his/her native country. When he/she passes her interview, he/she (and any children) is then allowed to travel to the U.S.
4. What happens after my spouse comes to the U.S.?
Once your spouse comes to the U.S. on his/her CR-1 visa, the USCIS will mail his/her Green Card to him/her within 1-2 months.
Once he/she has her Green Card, he/she becomes a legal permanent resident of the U.S., and he/she can travel freely and work in the U.S.
5. Do I need an attorney to obtain a CR-1 visa for my spouse?
It is not required that you have an attorney when you file the petition for a CR-1 visa for your spouse, but it is highly advisable to hire an attorney. There are a number of reasons for this:
(a) the USCIS and US State Department suspect that a large number of CR-1 cases are fraudulent, and for that reason deny many petitions. You do not want to have your case caught up in this dragnet, and face a denial. If you hire an attorney, you will be better able to demonstrate that your case is bona fide and genuine, and that the USCIS and State Department should grant your visa.
(b) To navigate your way through the CR-1 process, you have to fill out many forms. As a non-attorney, you will likely be unsure which forms to fill out, and exactly how to fill them out. You may read and reread the instruction, and think you understand . . . and yet some doubt may remain because you’ve never done this before.
If you make any mistakes or omissions, then your case will be delayed, possibly for months, and you may even meet with a denial from the USCIS, which would require you to start all over again. During any delay, you will most likely be separated from your spouse, creating a sense of intense anxiety and even despair.
If you hire an attorney, you are benefiting from his/her experience—attorneys handle cases like this day-in and day-out, and know exactly what to do to help you get the visa for your spouse.