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Posts Tagged ‘administrative closing’

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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19th October 2010

A common question on the lips of many American Citizens with a Burmese husband or wife is: “Can I get my Burmese husband (or wife) a US K3 marriage visa?” In the past, this question would likely have received an unqualified: yes. However, recent changes to the K3 visa process have resulted in the effective end of broad K-3 marriage visa issuance due to the American State Department’s National Visa Center and their policy of “administrative closure” for many K3 visa applications.

To understand the K3 visa process one must first understand why the K3 visa was invented. It was designed to act as a sort of expedited travel document for spouses of American Citizens at a time when the backlog for adjudication of classic Immigrant spouse visa petitions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was running quite high. In fact, there was a time when bi-national Burmese-American couples could wait as long as 3 years just to see their I-130 petition adjudicated (this does not take into account National Visa Center processing and Consular Processing of pending visa applications). Due to the aforementioned backlog, Congress and the US President enacted the so-called “Life Act” which, among other things, created the K-3 visa category. The K3 visa petition sort of “piggybacks” onto an underlying spouse visa petition and can only be filed after an initial Immigrant visa petition is filed.

In 2010, the National Visa Center announced that they would “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the underlying Immigrant visa petition arrived before, or at the same time as, the K-3 petition. It would seem that this policy is based upon the premise that the K-3′s utility is negated when USCIS has already adjudicated the Immigrant visa petition. Bearing this in mind, it should be noted that the Immigrant spouse visas (also known as the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa, depending upon the circumstances of the couple seeking the visa benefits) confer Lawful Permanent Residence upon the visa holder when admitted to the USA at a port of entry. A K3 visa holder is admitted as a non-immigrant, but the entrant retains the option of either adjusting status in the USA or applying for their immigrant visa at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. In any case, the K-3 visa, although slightly faster from an initial processing standpoint, does not grant superior benefits to the foreign spouse upon entry compared to the Immigrant visa categories. Therefore, those currently researching American spousal immigration are wise to delve into information regarding the CR1 or IR1 visas.

Fore related information please see: K3 Visa Burma or K1 Visa Burma.

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17th October 2010

Those familiar with this blog may have noticed that administrative closure of K3 visa applications has been a topic of discussion since the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) announced that K3 visa applications would be administratively closed if the underlying I-130 petition arrives at NVC prior to, or at the same as, the supplemental I-129f petition. Those who conduct research about the US visa process over the internet may have noticed that the buzzword used to describe a US Marriage Visa is: K3 visa. However, the K3 Visa is not the classic travel document used to bring a Vietnamese spouse to the United States of America. This is due to the fact that in the relatively recent past the only travel document available to the foreign spouse of a US Citizen, based upon the marriage alone, was either an IR-1 visa or a CR1 Visa both of which are only available to those filing an Immigrant visa petition.

The K-3 visa category’s creation was the result of a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. This bill was promulgated by the United States Congress and signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton. At that time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was processing Immigrant spouse visa petitions quite slowly due to a rather significant backlog of such petitions. The K-3 was designed to alleviate some of this backlog as well as reunite bi-national married couples as quickly as possible in the USA.

Recently, the USCIS has been processing Immigrant spouse petitions in a much more efficient manner. This has lead to many approved Immigrant petitions reaching the National Visa Center (NVC) at the same time or before the supplemental petition used to seek K3 visa benefits. As a result, the NVC made the policy that K3 visa applications would be “administratively closed” if the CR1 or IR1 visa petition arrived at NVC prior to or at the same time as the K3 petition. This has effectively compelled bi-national Vietnamese-American couples to seek Immigrant visa benefits rather than non-immigrant K3 visa benefits. That said, the Immigrant visa really is a preferable visa category to the K-3 as those Vietnamese spouses of American Citizens entering the USA on an Immigrant visa are granted Lawful Permanent Residence (either CR-1 or IR-1 status depending upon the couple’s circumstances) upon admission to the United States at a Port of Entry. Those entering the USA on a K3 visa are not granted lawful permanent residence upon admission, but instead must file for adjustment of status in the USA which can be costly and rather time consuming. Therefore, some have argued that NVC’s administrative closure policy has actually lead to an overall streamlining of the US Marriage Visa process.

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

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7th March 2010

In a few previous posts of this blog we discussed the current posture of the K3 visa process. At present, K3 visa processing is becoming increasingly erratic as the National Visa Center will no longer process I-129f petitions for K3 visas if the underlying I-130 application arrives before, or at the same time as, the I-129f. It is a credit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) diligence that they are processing I-129f applications as well as I-130 applications in a quick and efficient manner. However, for those looking for expedited marriage visa benefits this efficiency could end up creating an unwanted situation.

The National Visa Center has stated that they will “administratively close” aforementioned I-129f applications. This could lead to a difficult situation for those couples who specifically got married in a jurisdiction in order to process the foreign spouse’s visa application in that jurisdiction’s US Embassy. Under the provisions of the statute creating the K3 Visa, the visa must be processed by the Embassy in the country where the marriage took place. This allowed many couples to “Forum Shop” for the country where they wished the process their visa. For example, if a couple wished to process a visa application in Italy, they could ensure that the K3 visa application would be processed in Italy simply by getting married in Italy.

Now, because the future of the K3 Visa remains uncertain, there is a distinct possibility that visa interview “forum shopping” will become a thing of the past. That being said, Immigrant visa applications for documents such as the CR1 visa and the IR1 visa could be sent to the foreign spouse’s country of Nationality as Embassies and Consulates only process third country nationals as a courtesy and if inconvenient will send the application to the Post that must process the application.

Hopefully, these recent changes will not result in problems, but it remains to be seen if this will be the case. That being said, so long as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service continues to process the I-130 in such a quick manner, it remains likely that the National Visa Center will continue closing K3 cases and thereby forestalling the aforementioned practice of forum shopping. For those foreign fiancees in countries such as Burma (Myanmar) or Cambodia this change in policy could cause hardships as both of these countries’ bureaucracies can make it extremely difficult for a native born woman to marry an American man.

For information about how NVC policy may affect fiance visa processing please see: K1 visa.

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