Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About a K-3 or CR-1 Spouse/Marriage Visa

Marriage and Other Family Based Visas

Entering the U.S. on a marriage based, or other family based, visa (K-3/CR-1) is not an easy task; it takes a fully developed Petition Package with full supporting documentation clearly and precisely packaged and filed together; it is not just filing a few forms, and mistakes can be costly in both time and money.

The K-3 and CR-1 Visas are primarily used for a U.S. citizen and his/her spouse.; other family based visas (mother, father, children, etc.) are also available in this category. The goal of these visas is to bring the foreign-citizen/spouse, and or their immediate family, to the U.S. as permanent residents (green card holders). It will take Amerilawgroup approximately 5-6 month to bring persons in these categories to the U.S with their green cards being issued to them in approximately 30 days of their arrival in the U.S. No adjustment of status is needed with the type of visa we apply for in this situation.

AmeriLawGroup: California Lawyers Pro

At AmeriLaw we make it our mission to provide fast, personal and professional legal services at affordable rates. We only do Fiancé and Marriage Visas, Permanent Residency (green cards) and other Family Based immigration services. With over 40 years of experience we can also successfully handle the difficult cases involving overstays, financial, and or criminal issues; cases beyond the scope of many immigration services, firms, or attorneys.

Please see “Quick Summary and Overview” below concerning the visa process, or email or make an appointment for your private and secure consultation. Our initial consultation is without charge.

Quick Summary and Overview: Marriage and Other Family Based Visas

Marriage and or Family Based visas are primarily used when a U.S. citizen wants to bring his spouse or other family member to the U.S as permanent residents (LPR). The family of the foreign citizen may be included in the process in many circumstances as well. Note: in fact, the K-3 visa has been seldom used after February, 2010; with most K-3’s being converted to CR-1s by the USCIS. However, it is still technically possible to file a K-3 and many persons still know this as the “marriage visa” so we note it here for your information. The goal of either visa is to bring the foreign-citizen to the U.S. in order shorten the separation between the spouses and adjust their status to permanent resident. The K-3 visa differs from the CR-1 visa in that it is meant to get the spouse into the country, at which point they apply for a Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR). Again the K-3 is not used much anymore.

On the other hand, receiving the CR-1 visa means that the spouse or family member is a permanent resident as soon as they enter the U.S. Initially, there was a delay in the CR-1 visa processing time leading to more K-3 applications. However, the processing time and scheduling interview appointments has undergone recent changes to streamline the process at the USCIS and at most embassies and consulates worldwide.

In order to first obtain the K-3 or CR-1 visa, the spouse of the U.S. citizen must precisely and fully meet all of the complex requirements established by the USCIS and United States State Department. The requirements, laws, and regulation are changing all the time and we use state of the art tools to keep our materials and information up to date 24/7.

In short, the foreign-citizen must have a petition for an immigrant visa submitted by the U.S. citizen; plus complete back up documentation as required for each submission as well as later submissions to the embassy/consulate, and at the interview. We will assist you at each step of this process.

Further Details and Information

Within this application there are two phases. The first phase deals with the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the second with the National Visa Center (NVC)/State Dept. and the consulate/Embassy in the immigrants country. In the first phase, a petition for the spouse visa is sent to the USCIS office and when approved moves to NVC and then on to further required information for the embassy/consulate in the spouse’s country. Once these petitions have been approved, the spouse is requested to attend an interview at the embassy/consulate and when final approval is obtained the visa is issued very shortly. The overall process from submission of documents to receipt of visa will take about 5-6 months.

The immigrant may use the visa anytime within 6 months of issuance (this can be extended or modified in several ways, Call us for additional information on this point). Within a few weeks of arrival the spouse will be issued a Green Card that they can use to travel outside the U.S. and or work in the U.S.

Some people can do all this on their own without the assistance of an attorney. However, even a small mistake or omission can cause delay for many months, or in some cases outright denial. It is a personal choice whether to risk delay or denial and overall higher costs or to obtain the convenience, speed and accuracy…the peace of mind…of using our office for a relatively small amount of money which can be financed with a credit card. We will do it for you correctly and quickly the first time and look forward to helping you, your spouse and family. Contact us to discuss your case; email us and we will call you or with a personal conference call at a time you reserve at your convenience.

What Must I Do to Be Eligible for a Marriage Visa? General Principals of Eligibility

To be eligible for a CR-1/K-3 Visa you must be able to show that:

  • You and your spouse are presently legally married.
    • A legal marriage is one which is officially recognized by the state or government where you were married. You will need to be able to obtain an official record of the marriage, such as a marriage certificate or other certification, from the government where you were married. An official “marriage certificate” or local equivalent, is required.

    • You do not need to have been married in the US. The marriage must only be officially recognized by the government of the place where you were married.

      Note: Your case will be processed, and the visa issued, in the immigrant’s country of marriage, (if you were married in Iran, North Korea, or other countries the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with we can handle this for you; call for details).

    • You and your spouse must have actually attended the recognized marriage ceremony; proxy marriages are generally not acceptable

    • No particular type of ceremony or local custom is needed, only that the marriage be officially recognized by the country where it was performed.

    • Domestic partnerships or "common law" marriages generally do not qualify unless the place where you have lived together does recognize these as official marriages; even then you will have to obtain an official certificate recognizing this form of marriage.

  • Your marriage must be "bona fide".
    • You must show that you got married because you wanted to be married and at the time of the marriage you intended to stay married and make a life together. Our package submitted to the USCIS and Embassy/Consulate must prove this; just the fact of a marriage is not enough. We will help with this. Particular is needed here since the issue of “bona fide” marriage probably results in more denials than any other issue and it can be a problem at both the USCIS or Embassy/Consulate levels if not properly handled.

  • You are a US citizen, or Permanent Resident of the US, married to a non-resident alien spouse.
    • Citizenship can be obtained by:
      • Birth in the US
      • Through naturalization
      • Derived from having one or more US citizen parents
  • You and your spouse are only married to each other and not other persons at the same time.
    • If either of you were married before, you the US citizen, and or your spouse, will have to provide documentation that you are no longer married to someone else. This documentation is usually proof of:

      • Death of the former spouse
      • Divorce from the former spouse
      • Annulment of the former marriage

    If your spouse has foreign born, unmarried children, who are not your (the US citizen's) natural children and are under the age of 21, they will, in most cases, be eligible to apply for and receive a visa as well. They will be able to travel to the US at the same time as your spouse (or in some cases follow on later).

    We would be happy to help you obtain your marriage Visa. Call on our reserved line or send us an email and we will call you.

    Marriage Visa Q&A (Includes Same Sex)
    What Are the Steps for Obtaining a Spousal (K-3 or CR-1) Visa?
    • There are two phases in the K-3 or CR-1 visa process (Phase I and Phase II)
      • Phase I: We file Petitions with the USCIS for your spouse to come to the US for the purpose of becoming a permanent resident.
      • We file supporting documentation with the Petitions.
      • Once the Petitions are approved, the National Visa Center (US Department of State) obtains further information and sends the forms and documentation to your spouse's consulate in his/her home country.
      • Phase II: We file additional forms and documents as requested by the consulate in your spouse's home country.
      • Your spouse is requested to attend an interview at the consulate after which the spouse visa is issued. We prepare your spouse for this interview.
      • Your spouse comes to the US and is issued a green card within 4-6 weeks of arrival. Upon issuance your spouse may work and travel with the green card and his/her passport from their home country.
    Is the Spouse Visa Issued at the Time of the Interview?
    • Yes, or within a short time thereafter.
    Are There Differences in the Time It Takes the Spouse of a US Citizen or the Spouse of a Permanent Resident to Get a Spousal Visa?
    • Yes, obtaining the K-3 or CR-1 visa for the spouse of a permanent resident takes much longer than for the spouse of a US citizen.
    Once the Spouse Visa Is Issued, How Long Does the Foreign Spouse Have to Come to the US?
    • He or she has six months to enter the US after issuance of the marriage visa.
    Can a US Citizen File for a Visa While Living Outside the US?
    • Yes, AmeriLawGroup has obtained visas (such as the K-3 or CR-1 ) for many US citizens while they are living outside the US.
    How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Spouse Visa?
    • This varies depending on which USCIS Service Center and consulate is involved in the process. A good rule would be 5-6 months although we are seeing shorter times in some cases. The time to obtain a spousal visa is generally less than shown on the USCIS websites.
    OK, I Would Like to Apply for a Spouse Visa with the Assistance of AmeriLawGroup, What Do I Do Now?
    • Please click here for our Services and Fees and we will get the process for obtaining a spouse visa started within 24 hours of hearing from you.