Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Marriage Visa’

21st October 2010

Those who have read some of the blog will no doubt note that this administration often posts information about the K3 visa process and the overall impact of administrative closing of K3 visa applications by the US State Department’s National Visa Center. Many American Citizens who have a Laotian husband or wife pose the question: “Can I get a K3 visa for my wife (or husband) to reunite with me in the USA?” The answer to this question, at the time of this writing, is a rather qualified: no. However, a brief overview of the K3 visa and the recent changes to the K3 visa process may enlighten those who are researching this issue on their own for the first time.

At one time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had a substantial backlog of immigrant spouse visa petitions. This lead to a situation in which it could take as long as 3 years to receive USCIS adjudication of a mere immigrant spousal visa petition filed by an American Citizen. Due to this rather untenable situation, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. Under the provisions of the Life Act, the K3 visa category and the K4 visa category were created (The K4 visa is a derivative visa for the children of foreign spouses similar to the derivative K2 visa which can be “piggybacked” onto a K1 visa application). At the time, the K3 visa was greeted by many as a severely needed stopgap solution to a rather pernicious problem: slow processing of classic immigrant visa petitions. In recent years, the USCIS has gone to great lengths to streamline the adjudication process and thereby decrease the time it takes to see an immigrant spouse visa petition adjudicated. As a result, many adjudicated immigrant visa petitions began arriving at the National Visa Center at the same time as their K3 counterparts. At one point, it would appear that a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the Immigrant petition arrives either before or at the same time as the K3 petition. This leads to a situation where American-Lao bi-national couples are compelled to seek immigrant visa benefits rather than K3 visa benefits. It should be noted that immigrant visa benefits are substantially superior to K3 visa benefits as immigrant visas confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer at the time of his or her entry into the United States. Whereas the K3 visa is simply a non-immigrant spouse visa. Therefore, those entering the USA in K3 status must either file for an adjustment of status or Consular Process their immigrant visa petition at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the USA.

The term “K3 visa” has sort of become the buzzword used to refer to a US Marriage Visa over the internet. In point of fact, the classic travel documents used by Lao spouses to reunite with their American counterparts are referred to as either the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa. Depending upon a bi-national couple’s circumstances such travel documents may confer either conditional or unconditional lawful permanent residence upon admission to the USA.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Laos or K3 Visa Laos.

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20th October 2010

This blog frequently discusses American Immigration matters in a country-specific context in order to provide insight to those researching US Immigration issues for the first time. Some are not aware that in 2010 the United States National Visa Center (an agency under the jurisdiction of the US Department of State) promulgated the policy that K3 visa applications would be “administratively closed” if the underlying immigrant visa petition arrived at NVC prior to, or at the same time as, the K3 Visa petition.Those researching this issue for the first time may find a brief overview of the K3 visa’s history insightful as this may shed light upon the possible reasoning behind the “administrative closure” policy.

At one time, there was a rather large backlog of Immigrant spouse visa petitions (petitions for visas now classified as either a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa) at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Therefore, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed legislation colloquially referred to as the “Life Act”. This statute effectively created the visa category known as the K-3 (for derivative dependents the visa category is a K-4 which is similar to the K-2 derivative visa associated with a K1 visa or fiance visa). Since the creation of the K-3 visa, the USCIS has cut down their backlog to the point where immigrant visa petitions are being adjudicated within a matter of months. As a result, there was a rather brief period of time in which USCIS was adjudicating immigrant visa petitions faster that K3 visa petitions. In any case, once USCIS has made their adjudication, such petitions are then sent to the NVC where they are the forwarded on to the US Mission, US Embassy, or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction for Consular Processing. At some point, a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the underlying immigrant visa petition arrives at NVC before, or contemporaneously with, the immigrant visa petition. In practical terms, this means that if the adjudicated immigrant visa petition arrives at NVC before the K3 petition, the K3 will be effectively set aside and the bi-national couple will be compelled to proceed with the immigrant visa process.

In a way, this policy makes some sense as the K3 visa’s utility is somewhat negated by the contemporaneous processing of an immigrant visa. As a result, at the time of this writing, there are many who feel that the K3 visa is not a particularly viable option for those Americans wishing to bring their Taiwanese husband or wife to the USA. It should be noted that the K3 visa was always a non-immigrant visa meaning that it did not confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer when admitted to the USA. Those arriving in the USA on a K3 could choose to either consular process their immigrant visa application or file for adjustment of status in the USA.

For related information please see:  K1 Visa Taiwan or US Marriage Visa.

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15th October 2010

Those American Citizens with an Indonesian spouse sometimes posit: “Would it be possible for me to obtain a K3 visa for my Indonesian husband or wife?” Although, the answer to this question is not exactly “cut and dried” it is a qualified No. However, this does not necessarily mean that there is not another US Marriage Visa category available to the Indonesian husband or wife of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.

The reason that a K3 marriage visa is likely unavailable to the Indonesian spouse of a US Citizen (K visas are not available to lawful permanent residents, this includes the popular K1 visa which is often used to bring fiances of American Citizens back to the USA) is due to the fact that the US State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) has promulgated a policy whereby all K3 Visa applications will be administratively closed if the I-129f petition arrives contemporaneously with, or before, the arrival of an I-130 petition. As the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has recently reduced their backlog when adjudicating I-130 petitions this has lead to a situation where I-130 petitions are arriving at NVC prior to their I-129f counterparts. In a way, circumstances as they exist under the aforementioned scenario negate the need for the K3 visa in most situations.

The K3 visa was created under the language of the so-called “Life Act” which was promulgated during the latter part of the Clinton Administration. At that time, the backlog of I-130 petitions was rather large and the K3 visa was created to allow expedited marriage visa processing for the spouses of US Citizens. As technology improved and USCIS overcame their I-130 backlog the USCIS processing time for the K3 visa and the Immigrant visa categories (CR1 Visa, IR1 Visa) came into alignment. Therefore, the K3 visa became somewhat redundant and the National Visa Center seems to have made the decision to “phase out” these types of visas when they are no longer needed.

This does not mean that American marriage visas are no longer available at all. Instead, more and more couples seek visa benefits by using the classic I-130 petition. This petition, if approved, can be used to obtain a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa for the spouse of an American Citizen (Lawful Permanent Residents are eligible to petition for CR1 or IR1 immigration benefits, but it generally takes longer to process such requests). Currently, it takes approximately 11-12 months to obtain an Immigrant visa for the Indonesian spouse of a US Citizen taking into account USCIS adjudication (currently taking approximately 5-6 months), NVC processing, and Consular Processing at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Indonesia or K3 Visa Indonesia.

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14th October 2010

On the internet the term “K3 visa” seems to have become the ubiquitous buzzword used to refer to a US Marriage Visa. However, this type of visa is not the classic method employed by American Citizens wishing to bring their Cambodian spouse back to the United States of America. In reality, many utilize either a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa when seeking immigration benefits for a foreign spouse. This is largely due to the recently enacted policy of the National Visa Center (NVC) to “Administratively close” K3 visa applications arriving contemporaneously with, or after, the arrival of an approved I-130 petition at the National Visa Center.

At one time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had a major backlog of pending I-130 petitions for spouses of Americans. President Clinton and the Congress at that time promulgated legislation known as the Life Act which created a new visa category called the K3 Visa. This type of travel document was a sort of expedited non-immigrant marriage visa for spouses of American Citizens (Lawful Permanent Residents have never been eligible for K visa benefits including the K1 visa). Those using such a travel document were required to file an adjustment of status application following their spouse’s arrival in the USA, but the K3 visa was issued as a multiple entry travel document so physical presence in the USA was not a rigorously demanded during the adjustment process for K3 visa holder, as opposed to K1 visa holders who cannot leave the USA while the adjustment of status is processing without applying for an advance parole travel document. Under such circumstances, should a K1 visa holder leave the USA without adjusting status then they will fall out of status and the whole process must begin anew.

Since the the creation of the K3 visa USCIS has cut down their backlog of US Marriage visas tremendously. Currently, it takes approximately 5-6 months for USCIS to adjudicate an I-130 for the spouse of a US Citizen. This brought K3 visa processing times and CR1 visa processing times into greater alignment resulting in a situation where it took virtually the same amount of time to fully process either type of visa, give or take a few weeks depending upon the unique circumstances of a case. As a result, the National Visa Center seems to have adopted the policy that there is little use for the K3 visa under the current circumstances which lead to the automatic “administrative closure” of such applications where the underlying I-130 petition has been adjudicated. This does not mean that the entire visa process is at an end, but the applicant is effectively required to seek an Immigrant spouse visa rather than a K3 visa where the I-130 is adjudicated in a timely manner.

For related information please see: K3 Visa Cambodia or K1 Visa Cambodia.

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5th October 2010

Southeast Asia is a beautiful and  often visited part of the world. One of the lesser known, but highly enjoyable, destinations in Southeast Asia is the country of Laos. This small landlocked country north of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Kingdom of Cambodia, and South of the Peoples’ Republic of China has been a destination of choice for those seeking the adventure and natural beauty of tropical Asia. Some Americans who travel to Laos meet a special someone whom they wish to bring back to America. For these people, the first thing that comes to mind is: “Will my girlfriend (or boyfriend) need a US Visa?” In most cases, a visa will be necessary as the United states does not allow Laotians to come to America on the US Visa Waiver Program. Therefore, the next question for many is: “Can I get my Lao girlfriend (or boyfriend) a US Tourist Visa?” In most cases, the answer to this question is: no, but a deeper understanding of relevant immigration law may provide insight into the reason for possible denial.

Relatively few Americans are aware of a provision in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act called section 214(b). Under this section of the INA a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application (like a B2 visa application, B2 is the official category for tourist visas) must presume that the applicant is an intending immigrant unless the applicant can provide strong evidence to the contrary. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Consular Officer will balance the applicant’s ties to the USA and Laos (or another country abroad). If the applicant can show strong ties to Laos and weak ties to the USA, then that applicant may be granted the tourist visa. However, in cases where a US Citizen is a significant other of the applicant such a relationship may have a negative impact upon the visa application as the relationship itself could be viewed as a “strong tie” to the USA. This should NOT be read as to imply that a relationship should not be disclosed as it is this author’s opinion that failure to disclose the existence of an American significant other could be construed as misrepresentation. That said, such a relationship could still have an adverse impact upon an applicant’s tourist visa application.

Those who wish to bring a Lao loved one back to the United states for the purposes of marriage and subsequent residence are well advised to seek either a US fiance visa (K1 visa) or a US Marriage Visa (CR1 Visa, IR1 Visa, or a K3 Visa although the K3 visa category has been effectively phased out by the National Visa Center in recent months).  That said, no one should ever enter into any type of relationship strictly as a pretext for obtaining a US Immigration benefit. Therefore, the relationship that acts as a basis for any visa application or petition ought to be bona fide and genuine.

For related information please see: US Visa Vietnamese Girlfriend or K1 Visa Laos.

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30th September 2010

A frequently asked question among American expatriates and tourists overseas is: “Can I bring my foreign girlfriend with me to the United States on a Tourist visa?” In the context of Burma (Myanmar) some Americans may pose the question: “Can I bring my Burmese boyfriend or girlfriend to the United States on a Tourist Visa?” In many cases, the answer to either of these questions is a qualified: No. However, an in depth understanding of the statutory scheme underlying the Consular adjudication of visa applications can provide insight into the reasons for denial of these types of visas when sought by the significant others of United States Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.

Relatively few people (Americans included) are aware that United States Immigration law imposes a rather stringent statutory presumption that Consular Officers must adhere to when adjudicating non-immigrant visa applications. Under section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act a Consular Officer adjudicating a non-immigrant visa application abroad must refuse to issue the visa if the applicant cannot overcome the presumption that they are intending to immigrate to the United States of America. This creates a sort of “strong ties” vs. “weak ties” analysis whereby the Officer adjudicating the application can only grant the requested visa if the applicant can show sufficient “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the USA. This presumption is not easily overcome under the best of circumstances, but when an officer takes into account the fact that a non-immigrant visa applicant has an American boyfriend or girlfriend, the presumption could become virtually insurmountable without strong documentation in support of issuance.

Unfortunately, in the past there have been instances of couples attempting to utilize the US tourist visa for the purpose of circumventing the relatively long processing times associated with applying for US family immigration benefits. It should be noted that misrepresenting one’s intentions on a visa application could be construed as visa fraud by American authorities. A finding that fraud has occurred could result in civil and criminal sanctions for both the applicant and the American significant other.

Those couples wishing to obtain a family immigration benefit through use of an American fiance visa (K1 visa) or a spousal visa (K3 Visa in limited cases or a classic CR1 Visa or IR1 Visa in the vast majority of cases) should bear in mind that a visa petition should only be brought if the couple has a bona fide relationship. In short: a couple should not get married or file for a fiance visa if they do not have a bona fide relationship. A pretextual relationship, or so-called “marriage of convenience”, should not be used as a basis for submitting an application for a US visa.

For related information please see: US Visa Indonesian Girlfriend or K1 Visa Burma.

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9th August 2010

Those who keep up with Immigration news have no doubt noticed the increasing tensions that have been caused by problems along the Southwestern Border of the United States. In a recent announcement distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association it was noted that a new Senate Bill was passed which could provide new funding for increased border security initiatives. To quote the announcement directly:

On 8/5/10, with hours left before the beginning on the August recess, the Senate passed a $600 million emergency spending bill aimed at increasing border security. The bill, titled the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, was passed by a voice vote.

Senator Schumer (D-NY), along with several Democratic colleagues, introduced the Border Security Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 (S.3721) and used it as a substitute amendment to H.R. 5875, a bill passed by the House of Representatives on 7/28/10. Further action is required before H.R. 5875, as passed by the Senate, can be sent to President Obama’s desk for signature.

It is unclear at this point if the House of Representatives, which is set to return for a short two day session on 8/09/10, will take up the Senate measure or whether they will wait until September…

In response to the passage of this Bill, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, made the following statement:

“I commend the Senate for passing the Southwest Border bill to add important, permanent resources to continue bolstering security on our Southwest border. These assets are critical to bringing additional capabilities to crack down on transnational criminal organizations and reduce the illicit trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons. Over the past eighteen months, this Administration has dedicated unprecedented personnel, technology, and resources to the border and we will continue to take decisive action to disrupt criminal organizations and the networks they exploit. I encourage the House to act quickly on this bill to strengthen our historic border security efforts.”

The final resolution remains to be seen, but there are many who feel strongly about this issue and it is likely that the subject of undocumented immigration will remain controversial heading into the upcoming Congressional elections. That said, Comprehensive Immigration Reform may still be on the horizon notwithstanding bills passed in an effort to deal with the current issues along the US-Mexican border.

For related information please see: Comprehensive Immigration Reform. For information about bringing a loved one to the United States with proper documentation please see: K1 visa or US Marriage Visa.

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27th July 2010

This author has recently been informed that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is poised to conduct a thorough policy review which will delve into USCIS’s customer service procedures and look for ways to improve the US immigration system. As a first step, USCIS announced that a public survey would be conducted. Below are excerpts from a USCIS press release (distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association [AILA]), which outlines the purpose of the policy review and provides guidance regarding further methods of information gathering in an effort to improve USCIS customer service policies:

WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the results of a public survey that launched the USCIS Policy Review, an unprecedented, top-to-bottom examination of the agency’s adjudication and customer-service policies. The survey results helped USCIS select the first 10 issue areas to address in the agency-wide review.


Informed by the survey responses, the agency’s needs, and input from the workforce, the USCIS Policy Review will begin by examining policies in the following issue areas: National Customer Service Center; Nonimmigrant H-1B; Naturalization and Citizenship; Employment-based Adjustment of Status; Family-based Adjustment of Status; Employment-Based Preference Categories 1, 2 and 3; Refugee and Asylum Adjustment of Status; Form I-601; General Humanitarian; and Employment
Authorization and Travel Documents.


“As an agency, we must achieve consistency in the policies that guide us and in how we implement them for the public benefit,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “To achieve that critical goal, we are partnering with the public in this major undertaking to review our adjudication and customer-service policies. We will work collaboratively toward the shared objectives of consistency, integrity, transparency and efficiency.”


In April 2010, USCIS issued a survey that asked any interested member of the public, as well as its own workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first. USCIS received approximately 5,600 survey responses from diverse stakeholders. Those results are now available, along with a summary developed by USCIS’s new Office of Performance and Quality.

Some have questioned the need for such a survey as there are those who feel that USCIS’s current policies do not need improvement. Clearly, this is not the official view of USCIS as can be evidenced by the following statement:

On April 15, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched the USCIS Policy Review, an unprecedented, top-to-bottom examination the agency’s adjudication and customer service policies with the engaged participation of the USCIS workforce and the public. USCIS issued a survey that asked any interested member of the public, as well as its own workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first. Nearly 5,600 stakeholders responded to the survey, representing current immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders, employers, immigration attorneys and advocates, among others, in addition to responses from approximately 2,400 members of the USCIS workforce. Those responses helped USCIS select the first 10 issue areas to address in the agency-wide review. USCIS is now convening working groups to review the first 10 issue areas.

The press release went further than merely providing information regarding this important policy review. In an effort to provide the public with relevant information, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) also provided a “Q & A” component to the recent press release. The following are questions and answers arising in connection with USCIS’s policy review initiative:

Questions and Answers


Q. What is the USCIS Policy Review?


A. The USCIS Policy Review is a comprehensive review of policy, guidance, and procedures related to our adjudications and customer service. The Policy Review is divided into four stages: (1) assembling and categorizing existing policy documents; (2) deciding which issue areas to review first, with input from surveys of the workforce and external stakeholders; (3) completing a review of policies in each identified issue area; and (4) consolidating and publishing updated policy documents (as appropriate), once approved.


Q. How does the Policy Review advance major goals already established for USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?


A. In the 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), DHS identified the effective administration of the immigration system as a key priority. In particular, the QHSR emphasized the importance of a system that produces fair, consistent and prompt decisions for the public it serves. The Policy Review is designed to ensure that USCIS meets that standard in its work.


Q. How does the Policy Review relate to USCIS’s responsibilities and authority under federal law?


A. By law, USCIS is charged with setting policies and priorities for the administration of immigration services. USCIS will be reviewing those policies in our current effort. If the Policy Review identifies the need for proposed regulatory changes, we will fully engage in the federal rulemaking process. The purpose of the Policy Review is not to develop proposed changes to the immigration statutes established by Congress.

Q. Will the Policy Review change USCIS policy?


A. In many cases, yes. Working groups will evaluate policy based on USCIS goals, legal requirements and stakeholder concerns. These working groups will draft updated policy documents and proceed through USCIS’s policy-approval process. If the Policy Review identifies the need for proposed regulatory changes, USCIS will fully engage in the federal rulemaking process.


Q. What happens to existing policies during the course of the Policy Review?


A. While the Policy Review is underway, all policies already in place remain in full force and will be honored. From time to time in the course of the agency’s operations, policy issues may arise that require immediate attention outside the course of the formal Policy Review. We will continue to give these issues immediate attention as the need arises.


Q: What prompted the Policy Review?


A. USCIS is committed to ensuring that our policies are consistent and up to date. To that end, the agency has launched the USCIS Policy Review to examine our policies with input from the public it serves and from its workforce.


Q. Has USCIS previously undertaken a comprehensive review of its policies?


A: No. The effort to undertake a top-to-bottom review of our adjudication and customer service policies is an unprecedented initiative for USCIS.


Q. How will USCIS seek the public’s input during the Policy Review?


A. In keeping with our commitments to customer service and transparency, USCIS will engage practitioners, advocates, businesses, applicants, and other interested stakeholders throughout the course of the Policy Review. The survey was the first opportunity for stakeholders to participate. As we review policies in specific issue areas, we will offer a number of further opportunities for the public to offer input. For example, in some issue areas, we will conduct public meetings to solicit stakeholders’ views on specific policy matters. In many cases, we will also published drafts of new or revised policy memoranda on our website for public comment, now a regular step in USCIS’s policy development process.


Q. What did the survey ask?


A. The survey asked any interested member of the public, as well as the USCIS workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first. The survey also included comment sections.


Q. How many people responded to the survey?


A. Nearly 5,600 external stakeholders responded to the survey, representing current immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders, employers, immigration attorneys and advocates, among others. Nearly 2,400 members of the workforce from USCIS offices worldwide also participated in the survey.


Q. How has USCIS used the survey results?


A. The survey results helped USCIS identify which issue areas to address first in its agency-wide review. USCIS considered quantitative and qualitative feedback from the surveys along with operational and programmatic needs to develop the initial list of issue areas for review.

Q. In addition to the survey, what progress has USCIS made in the Policy Review?


A. USCIS has assembled thousands of existing policy documents and categorized them into issue areas. USICS is now convening internal working groups to begin examining and evaluating the policy documents in the first 10 issue areas.


Q. What is the expected length and scope of the Policy Review?


A. The Policy Review is a multi-year effort designed to work thoughtfully through thousands of policy documents, many of which overlap or complement each other, in collaboration with the USCIS workforce and external stakeholders. New policy documents, once drafted, will be submitted through the USCIS clearance process, with many posted on the USCIS website for public comment.

At the time of this writing, there have been relatively few changes in the law regarding US Family Visas. Although administrative and regulatory changes have had a significant impact upon processing of the US Marriage Visa and the US fiance visa. That said, the recent fee increase for Consular Processing of the K1 visa (fiance visa) and the administrative closure of K3 Visa applications by the National Visa Center were promulgated by the Department of State (DOS) as there has been little recent change in the fee structure and administration of USCIS’s adjudication of family based visa petitions.

This author is of the opinion that this unprecedented policy review should be welcomed as it may herald further improvements to the American Immigration system and provide immigrants and Americans with better overall service. One must applaud USCIS for taking the initiative and promoting positive change.

For related information from the perspective of Southeast Asia please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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17th July 2010

As regular readers will likely note, we try to provide relevant and useful information to those interested in obtaining a US family visa from abroad. Below are the processing times for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Centers which process Immigrant and non-immigrant family based petitions for visas such as the K1 visa, the K3 Visa, the CR1 Visa, and the IR-1 Visa. The following processing time estimates for the California Service Center were quoted directly from the USCIS website:

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 April 02, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 September 02, 2002
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister January 02, 2002
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 March 23, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter
over 21
May 02, 2004
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker E – Treaty traders and investors 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months

As USCIS has two service centers which handle Family based Immigration adjudications it is fitting to post both both sets of processing time estimates. The following processing time estimates for the California Service Center were quoted
directly from the USCIS website:

I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 October 16, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 September 20, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 January 02, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter
over 21
October 03, 2009
I-131 Application for Travel Document Permanent resident applying for a re-entry permit 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Refugee or asylee applying for a refugee travel document 3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal
applying for advance parole
3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) dependent
applying for advance parole
3 Months
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker E – Treaty traders and investors 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 1 Months

If a family based petition is adjudicated and approved by USCIS, then it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire where it will be processed and sent to the the US Embassy or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction. For further information about US Family Immigration generally please see: US Marriage Visa.

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16th July 2010

This blog is dedicated to providing relevant information for those with pending Immigration petitions before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). With that in mind, it is particularly important to provide relevant information to military personnel who have a spouse or loved one processing through the American Immigration system. This author recently discovered that USCIS has posted a set for frequently asked questions  (and their answers) regarding the US Immigration process for military personnel and their families. Below is a list of Questions and Answers promulgated by USCIS and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Questions and Answers for Members of the Military


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers immigration services and resources specifically for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families who are stationed in the United States and abroad. USCIS established a military assistance team to ensure that the military community receives quick and secure access to accurate information. Below is a list of answers to frequently asked questions received by our military assistance team.


Adjustments


Q. What is the fee for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) filed by spouses of military members?


A. The filing fee for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) is $675 ($595 plus a biometrics fee of $80). Individuals who submit FD-258 Fingerprint Cards directly to USCIS with their applications are not required to pay the biometrics fee. Applicants filing from within the United States should submit a single check or money order of $675 made payable to Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Q. I am a military member stationed abroad with my dependents. Can my dependents have their naturalization interviews conducted overseas?


A. Yes. Certain spouses or children of service members residing abroad with that service member (as authorized by official orders) may be eligible to become naturalized citizens without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process. Please see “Fact Sheet: Requirements for Naturalization Abroad by Spouses of Members of the U.S. Armed Forces” and “Overseas Naturalization Eligibility for Certain Children of U.S. Armed Forces Members” on www.uscis.gov/military for more information.


If you have an appointment for a naturalization interview and you have transferred overseas, contact USCIS by calling the Military Help Line by telephone: 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) or email: militaryinfo.nsc@dhs.gov and request to have your case transferred to your nearest USCIS overseas office.


Submitting Biometrics


Q. I am an active duty military member and am required to submit biometrics at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC). Do I need an appointment?


A. No. Active duty military members do not need an appointment and will be accepted on a walk-in basis at any ASC in the United States. You should bring your military ID with you to the ASC.


Q. Can I submit fingerprints before I file the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)?


A. Yes. You may submit fingerprints even if you have not yet submitted an Application for Naturalization.


Q. Where can military members or dependents that are living abroad go to have the fingerprints taken?


A. Military members and dependents stationed abroad can submit 2 properly completed FD-258 Fingerprint Cards taken by the Military Police, Department of Homeland Security officials or U.S. Embassy or Consulate officials.


Q. If my military installation does not use FD-258, can I submit another type of fingerprint document instead?


A. FD-258 is the preferred document used to submit fingerprint, however USCIS may be able to accept a comparable document, such as the Department of Defense SF-87, in place of the FD-258. Please contact the USCIS Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) for more information.


General Information
Q. What are the criteria to have an application or petition expedited for military personnel?


A. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of situations that may
qualify for expedited processing include:
• Pending military deployment
• Extreme emergent situation
• Humanitarian situation
Please contact your local USCIS office or the USCIS Military Help Line at 1 877 CIS 4MIL (1-877-
247-4645) for more information.


Q. I am an active duty military member stationed abroad. How do I check the status of my application?


A. You can check their status of any application by clicking on the “Check My Case Status” link on the right-hand side of this page. Note: when checking the status of an I-751, you must use the receipt number from the ASC appointment notice. You may also call the USCIS Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645).

It is admirable that USCIS took the time to provide this information to those serving in the American military. Many feel that one of the positive aspects of the US immigration system is the care and attention provided to members of the Armed Services and their families.

For information about Immigration options for Thai spouses and Fiances of US Citizens please see: US Marriage Visa or Fiance Visa Thailand.

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