Integrity Legal

4th Oct 2009

For those who have already executed a marriage in Thailand, the options for United States visas can become more limited. In general, the two Immigration options most applicant couples choose to pursue immediately following lawful marriage are the K3 visa and the CR1 visa. Unless there exist strategic reasons for applying for the K3 visa (speed of issuance, or choice of interview forum), the CR1 visa is often the better choice as it confers conditional lawful permanent residence upon the applicant at the moment they are admitted into the United States of America.

The CR1 visa is available to those couples who have been married for less than two years. IR1 visas are used by couples who have been married more than 2 years. In Thailand, a common misconception is that getting married is the best way to ensure a fast visa for a Thai loved one. In many cases, this is untrue because the K1 visa is sometimes a faster Immigration option. That being said, in cases where the United States Citizen is entitled to file an I-130 application abroad (known as a local filing or direct consular filing) marriage might provide a way of expediting the US visa process. If a US Citizen opts to file locally for a US visa and the couple has been married for less than 2 years, then a CR1 visa will be issued upon application approval.

Once in the United States, the foreign spouse will eventually need to apply for a lift of the conditions of his or her visa. This is accomplished by filing an I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. The United States Citizen spouse will need to file the petition within ninety days of the second anniversary of the foreign spouse’s entrance into the US and once the application is approved the foreign spouse’s lawful permanent residence will no longer be contingent upon their continuing marital status.

Essentially, this application to lift conditions is somewhat similar to the adjustment of status application. For those with a fiance visa it is necessary to adjust status to permanent residence before being able to remain in the US indefinitely. The lift of conditions is analogous because it is a necessity that must be dealt with before permanent residence is unconditional and failure to apply for the lift of conditions could result in the foreign spouse falling out of lawful status. It should be noted that for those who adjust status from a K1 visa, permanent residence is deemed to begin on the date noted upon the adjustment of status approval notice. Within ninety days prior to the two year anniversary of said date, the foreign spouse must apply to Remove the Conditions of Residence.

Upon approval of an application to remove conditions, the former CR1 visa holder will be converted to an IR1 visa and be issued a 10 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).

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