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

Marriage and Other Family Based Visas (including same sex)

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.


At AmeriLaw we make it our mission to provide fast, personal and professional legal services at affordable rates. We only provide services for 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 legal permanent residents (LPR). The family of the foreign citizen may be included in the process in many circumstances as well.

Note regarding the K-3 visa: in practice, while still available in some circumstances, 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 family 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 seldom used anymore and requires extra filings and expense and delays.

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.; the "green card" is mailed directly to them within a few weeks of arrival in the US. No further filings or expense are required.

In order to first obtain the 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 electronic links to keep our materials and information up to date 24/7.

The process "in short" is:

1) Petitioner (usually a U.S. Citizen or Permanent resident) submits an immigrant Petition on behalf of the foreign spouse and or his/her family member to the USCIS.

This Petition must be a complete package of required forms and supporting documentation.

2) The initial Petition is approved and sent to the U.S. Dept. of State (NVC) and then to their embassy/consulate in the foreign citizen's country

3) Additional forms and documentation are submitted to the Embassy/consulate

4) The foreign citizens prepares for and participates in a visa interview at the Embassy/consulate.

5) The visa is issued

We will assist you at all of these steps to assure your success.

Details and Further Information

There are two phases of this Petition. 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 (marriage) visa is sent to the USCIS office and then approved.

This approved Petition then moves to the NVC (National Visa Center/U.S. Dept. of State) where we provide further required forms and documentation and a financial Affidavit of Support from the Petitioner.

Once the Petition is approved by NVC the Petition is sent to the embassy/consulate in the foreign citizen's country where final document approval is obtained, additional forms submitted, and an interview scheduled.

After clearing the interview the CR-1 (marriage) visa is issued to the foreign citizen spouse.

The overall process from first submission of forms documents to the USCIS, to receipt of the visa from the Embassy/consulate 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 extended time to use the visa).

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 starting over after an outright denial.

It is a personal choice whether to risk delay or denial and overall higher costs in the long run 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; send us an email from this site and we will call you or use the "MAKE A RESERVATION FOR A CONFERENCE" button on this site's home page to reserve a time for a private telephone conference at your convenience.

There is no cost for this initial consultation; we will give you the details of what must be done in your case, the costs and time needed to achieve success.

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

To be eligible for a CR-1 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.

    • While we will help with all of these issues, particular care is needed with this part of the submissions since the issue of “bona fide” marriage probably results in more denials than any other issue; 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.
    • Your 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.

Other Question and Answers regarding a Marriage Visa (Includes Same Sex)

Details of obtaining a spousal (marriage) 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 (or other family member) 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 forms from us, approves same, 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 help prepare your spouse for this interview.
    • Your spouse comes to the US and is issued a green card within a few 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 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. In some cases this can be extended if requested before visa issuance.
Can a US Citizen File for a Visa While Living Outside the US?
  • Yes, AmeriLawGroup has obtained visas (such as the CR-1 ) for many spouses and family of US citizens while they are all 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 CR-1 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 your visa started within 24 hours of hearing from you.
Client Reviews
Hello Cal, Just wanted to thank you for all your help...Just let me know if i can ever help you in the future as you certainly great help to me and Conney in this fiance visa process. I have restored and remodeled homes and also have ten years accounting background if you ever need the favor returned California would not be a bad place to take a volunteer vacation too with my fiance of course. Have a great week, Martin M.
Dear Cal, But a quick note to advise you that our petition for a K-1 visa for my fiance' has been approved...and you also might appreciate the fact that my submission was received by The Department Of Homeland Security on 28 September 2009 and approved on 26 October; [thus, only 28-days in the pipeline from their acceptance until their written approval]. I did exactly as you advised me to do and it apparently paid off. The average time for the Vermont office to respond is roughly 3-months+. We did good!!! Bruce B.
Calvin: Thanks for the notification. You have been awesome. Do you mind if I mention your firm on the Thai Chat Boards I subscribe to? People are always looking for representation to get Visas? Thanks. John.
Hi Cal, I guess I forgot to follow up with, but Josefina was approved on the day of her interview and her passport was sent back to her in a matter of days from that point. She is already here and we want to thank you for all your help. Everything went smooth it was just more of a waiting game. Best Regards. Anonymous