What is a K-3 Visa?
The K-3 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen spouse of a United States citizen. A K-3 visa lets a nonimmigrant stay in the United States while waiting for an immigrant visa petition to be approved.
The K-3 visa allows foreign spouses to enter the United States and live here permanently while waiting for their green cards. It was created to help US citizens who are separated from their spouses while those spouses complete lengthy immigrant visa paperwork.
In order to obtain a nonimmigrant K-3 visa, a foreign national must have an immigrant visa petition filed on his or her behalf by his or her U.S. citizen spouse and pending approval. It is important to know that a foreign citizen who marries a U.S. citizen outside the U.S. must apply for the K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place.
People who apply for K-3 visas are eligible to apply for K-4 visas, which allow their recipients to stay in the United States while immigrant visa petitions are pending approval by the USCIS service center.
- What is a K-3 Visa?
- What is a CR1 Visa?
- Difference Between K3 and CR1 Visa Application
- K-3/CR1 Spouse Visa Eligibility Criteria
- K-3/CR1 Spouse Visa Required Documentation
- K-3/CR1 Visa Application Fees
- Sponsor’s Minimum Income Requirement For K-3/CR1 Visa
- Which is Faster K3 or CR1 Visa?
- K3 and CR1 Visa Comparison
- How Can Total Law Help?
What is a CR1 Visa?
A CR1 (or Conditional Resident) visa is an immigrant visa that allows spouses of U.S. citizens to enter the United States.
To qualify for a CR1 visa, the applicant must have been married for less than two years at the time of applying for the visa.
The conditional visa is valid for two years after its issuance. Within that time, the beneficiary and their U.S. citizen spouse must apply to remove the conditions on the green card, at which point they will receive an updated 10-year permanent resident card.
Difference Between K3 and CR1 Visa Application
A K-3 visa and a CR1 visa are both types of visas that can be used to bring your foreign spouse to the United States. The difference between them is in their intended uses.
The main difference between the two is that the K-3 visa allows you to apply to enter the U.S., while the CR1 visa does not allow entry until after your spouse has already been approved for citizenship in the U.S.
In addition, a K-3 visa allows you to live in the U.S., but you can’t work unless you have authorization from USCIS or your employer obtains an employment authorization document (EAD) for you from USCIS; however, if you have an EAD, it will allow you to work legally in the United States while waiting for permanent residency status (green card).
Although the K-3 visa is available to spouses of U.S. citizens living abroad, it is usually not the best option and should generally be avoided. This is because the lengthy processing times make it difficult to use this visa as a means of entering the U.S. quickly or avoiding a lengthy application process with expensive fees involved. In most cases, a CR1 visa is a better option because there are no restrictions on employment or travel during its validity period.
K-3/CR1 Spouse Visa Eligibility Criteria
The K-3 visa is available to spouses who are legally married outside the U.S. and meet these eligibility requirements:
- Applicant must be a legal spouse of U.S. citizen
- Applicant must currently reside outside the United States
- A U.S. citizen must have already filed Form I-130 with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
- Evidence of your ability to financially support yourself
To qualify for a CR1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You and your spouse must be married and provide a valid marriage certificate
- The authenticity of your marriage must be proven with evidence, such as photographs or flight itineraries
- You must be at least 18 years old and the sponsor must have a residence in the U.S.
K-3/CR1 Spouse Visa Required Documentation
To obtain a K-3 visa, you must bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:
- Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Passport valid for six months beyond duration of stay in the U.S., with at least one blank visa page available for stamping by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon entry into the country
- Birth certificate
- Two photographs that meets Department of State specifications (2″ x 2″, full face, white background)
- Evidence of financial support
- Proof of any divorce decrees, annulment documents, or death certificates from any prior marriages
- Proof of the relationship with your U.S. citizen spouse
For a CR1 visa, you will need to include following documents:
- A passport that will remain valid for at least six months after your arrival
- Form DS-260
- An affidavit of support (I-864)
- Two passport style photographs
- Your wedding documents (such as a marriage certificate, wedding albums, and photos of your honeymoon)
- Police certificates and court records
- Medical exam papers
K-3/CR1 Visa Application Fees
To apply for a K-3 visa, you must submit your I-129F petition and pay the $535 filing fee per applicant. You must also submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative to USCIS. This will cost $535.
The CR1 visa application requires the submission of Form I-130 and Form DS-260 fees, which amount to $535 and $445 respectively.
You will also have to pay a medical examination fee (required for each K visa applicant; costs vary from post to post) and biometrics fees.
There are other costs involved in the application process. These can include translations, photocopying charges, the cost of obtaining documents you need for the visa application (such as a passport and police certificates), and expenses for travel to your visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
Sponsor’s Minimum Income Requirement For K-3/CR1 Visa
During your visa interview, you will be required to prove that you will not become a public charge in the United States. You can present evidence of your ability to support yourself or your U.S. citizen spouse’s ability to provide for you. The consular officer may ask for Form I-134, Affidavit of Support from your spouse.
You will need to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act, with your application for adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident following your marriage.
Which is Faster K3 or CR1 Visa?
How long it takes for either of these visas to be processed depends largely on where you file your application—and since there are multiple field offices and service centers across the country, this can vary widely from one region to another.
In general, it usually takes between 4 months and 16 months for K-3 visa applications to be processed. For a CR1 visa application, the waiting time can vary between 10 months and 30 months!
This visa processing time is based on the average time it takes USCIS service center to complete 80% of its cases over the past six months. This may give you an idea of how long your own case will take, but each case is unique and some may take longer than others.
K3 and CR1 Visa Comparison
While the K-3 and CR1 Visas are both a type of visa for spouses of US citizens, there are differences between them, such as the application process and rights and benefits.
Here are the main differences between the two visa types, so you’ll know which one is right for you:
|K-3 Visa||CR1 Visa|
|Need to be Married||Yes||Yes|
|U.S. Consulate Involved||Yes||Yes|
|Spouse Location||Spouse is living overseas||Spouse is living overseas|
|USCIS Fees||$535 + Consulate Fees + Adjustment of Status Fees||$535 + Consulate Fees|
|Ability to Travel to the U.S.||Yes, in some cases||Yes, in some cases|
|Processing Time||4 to 16 Months||10 to 30 Months|
|Required Forms||Form DS-160, Form I-129F, Form I-130, Form I-134||Form DS-260, Form I-130, Form I-864|
How Can Total Law Help?
Are you thinking of immigrating to the United States? If so, we can help you with your K-3 visa or CR1 visa application process.
At Total Law, we specialize in helping people from all over the world who want to move to America. We have a highly experienced team of immigration lawyers and paralegals who are ready to help you with any questions that you may have about your immigration status.
We can help you with everything from preparing the necessary documents to submitting them to USCIS on time, as well as making sure that everything is in order for when they arrive at the embassy.
We’ll also be available during processing times if you have any questions or concerns; just give us a call at +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.
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