Integrity Legal

15th May 2009

US Visas for Immediate Relatives related by Marriage


For those who wish to bring their family to the United States there are options under United States Immigration Law that allow immediate relatives of American Citizens entry into the United States as well as the possibility of permanent residence. At one time, the most common method of bringing a loved one to the United States was by marriage and petitioning for an immediate relative visa to the USA. The application for an Immediate Relative Visa was the I-130.

Congress then passed legislation creating two visa categories, where before there had been only one, for relatives related by marriage. Currently, there is what is known as a CR-1 visa which stands for Conditional Resident Visa. The conditionality of this visa means that the visa is conditioned upon the marriage lasting for two years. The other type of marriage visa is the IR-1 Visa. This visa is a Immediate Relative visa and there are no conditions implied with this visa.

As the legal situation evolved and the backlog of Immigration petitions increased, it became necessary to provide a more expedited visa for spouses of American Citizens. For this reason, legislation creating the K3 visa was enacted.

As recently as 2 months ago, this author advised clients that the K3 was an efficient and expeditious method of bringing a spouse to the USA in comparison to the CR-1 or IR-1 Visas. However, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has recently cleared a great deal of its backlog of cases and as a result the processing times for the I-129f petition (the Supplemental petition filed in order to obtain a K3 visa, those seeking a K1 visa will recognize this as the application form for that visa category) are nearly the same as the I-130 petition.

A K3 visa has many advantages and tactical uses, but the speed advantage of the K3 visa has recently been diminished by the faster processing time of the I-130 petitions. The I-130 is currently processing quickly, but the backlog could increase again later, although it does not seem likely. At its inception the K3 visa was being issued as a multiple entry non-immigrant visa with a validity of ten years. However, at the time of this writing, the K3 visa is being issued with a validity of two years. CR-1 Visas conditional period lasts for two years while IR-1 Visas, as mentioned previously, are unconditional

Deciding which category of US marriage visa to use is a decision that should be made after thoughtful study and consultation with the loved one who will be immigrating as well as an attorney should a couple find it necessary to retain one.

(Note: The information contained herein is meant for general use only and is not meant as a commentary on specific situations. This writing should not be used as an alternative for personalized legal advice from a competent attorney. No Lawyer-Client relationship is created between the reader and writer of this piece.)


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2 Responses to “Visas for Americans Married to Foreign Nationals”

  1. [...] US Visas for Immediate Relatives related by Marriage For those who wish to bring their family to the United States there are options under United States Immigration Law that allow immediate relatives of American Citizens entry into the United States as well as the possibility of permanent residence. At one time, the most common method of bringing a loved one to the United States was by marriage and petitioning for an immediate relative visa to the USA. The application for an Immediate Read the original post: Visas for Americans Married to Foreign Nationals [...]

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