Integrity Legal

3rd Nov 2009

Although this blog primarily focuses upon United States immigration for couples, we sometimes overlook the fact that the Petitioner may be a woman and the Beneficiary may be a man. Many American women in Thailand meet and fall in love with Thai men. Eventually the US Citizen must return to America and the couple begins to research options for the Thai national’s entrance into the USA.

One of the first visa categories that many couples look at is the category B2 visa also known as the tourist visa. Unfortunately, as in situations with an American man and a Thai lady, the US Embassy in Bangkok is reluctant to issue such visas to those with an American girlfriend, fiancee, or spouse because the relationship itself constitutes a “strong tie” to the US which is evidence bolstering the presumption of immigrant intent under 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Many tourist visas sought for Thai loved ones of US Citizens are denied under the above section of the INA.

Fortunately, the US fiance visa may be a possibility for the Thai-American couple as the US citizen fiancee could sponsor the Thai fiance for a K1 visa. This visa would allow the Thai man to come to the USA for 90 days. After arrival, the couple must marry and apply for adjustment of status so that the Thai man will be a lawful permanent resident in the United States. Should the couple not marry, then the Thai must leave the US before the 90 day period of lawful Immigration status ends. Generally, it takes between 6 and 7 months to process a K1 visa.

US marriage visas are also an option for the Thai-American couple. The usual method for receiving marriage visa benefits is for the Thai man to marry the American lady at a local Amphur office (Civil registrar office) in Thailand. Once the couple is legally married they will be eligible to apply for a CR-1 visa by filing an I-130 Immigration petition. It usually takes between 11 and 12 months for such a petition to be processed.

For those who wish to expedite the marriage visa process a K3 visa could be employed to shorten the processing time. It currently takes 8 months to process the supplemental I-129f petition for a K3. This type of visa requires the filing of two petitions. At this time, the K3 visa is probably not the best method of obtaining Immigration benefits because the K1 has a faster processing time and the CR1 visa does not require adjustment of status after entry.

All in all, the US Immigration process is basically the same regardless of each parties gender. That being said, US federal law (the Defense of Marriage Act) still requires that the petitioner and beneficiary be of the opposite sex.

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