Integrity Legal

25th May 2009

An issue that many Thai-American couples grapple with is that of deciding whether or not to register a marriage in Thailand or wait and conduct a marriage in the United States. This is an issue that can have a major impact on a Thai-American couple’s US Immigration options because United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as the US Embassy in Thailand view a couple with a registered marriage differently than a couple without a registered marriage. Also, a US Citizen’s marital status vis-a-vis a Thai Fiancee or Thai wife will affect the processing time for the type of visa being sought, and not in a way that most people expect.

The Irony of K1 Visas from Thailand: Why being Unmarried may be Beneficial

A counter intuitive aspect of K1 visas is the fact that they are generally a faster visa and immigration option than a marriage visa. This is due to the fact that there seems to be a lower case backlog of K1 visas at USCIS when compared to CR-1 and IR-1 Visas.  Also, the fact that a K1 visa is a non-immigrant visa might lead to less scrutiny from both USCIS and the US Embassy because the visa does not confer permanent residence, conditional or otherwise. This is not to imply that either adjudicators at USCIS or consular officers at the US Embassy in Bangkok are not fully conducting due diligence, but instead there seems to be an inherently lower level of scrutiny for non-immigrant visas when compared to immigrant visas. This is also true when comparing the K1 visa to a US tourist visa because the applicant for that visa must overcome the 2statutory presumption of immigrant intent. Since a fiance visa is a “hybrid visa” there is no need to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent threshold in order to be granted the visa, as with other non-immigrant visas.

Marriage Visas from Thailand

Some people who have already married in Thailand ask if it is possible to register a Thai divorce and subsequently apply for a K1 visa. Although technically feasible, the discretionary power of adjudicators in both USCIS and the Embassy in Bangkok could result in a finding that the relationship is not bona fide because the couple is divorced only to enjoy the benefit of faster processing times of the K1 visa over the US Marriage visas. For those married and residing in Thailand it may be possible to apply for an immigrant visa at the local USCIS office in Bangkok, in this situation marriage registration may be a boon to the Thai-American couple.

Thanks for reading, for more information please see: Marriage Registration Thailand or US Visa Thailand

(Please note: this writing is intended for informational purposes only and should not be utilized as a substitute for legal advice from a Licensed US Immigration Lawyer. No attorney client relationship is created between the author and any reader of this piece.)

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