Integrity Legal

14th Oct 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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