If you want to get married abroad and complete visa processing before coming to the United States, an alternative to the K-1/K-2 fiancée visa and the K-3/K-4 spouse visa is the marriage-based immigrant visa processing at the US Consulate abroad. If you have questions about consular processing or the K visa, contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates for a consultation with our attorneys. We have more than 50 years of combined legal experience in a wide variety of complex and immigration law matters.
The K-1 fiancé visa and the K-3 spouse visa are temporary visas that will allow your spouse to enter the United States in order to allow him/her to apply for a green card while in the US. Consular processing, on the other hand, would allow your spouse to bypass the temporary visa process and apply for the green card directly at the US consular office.
Consular processing may take a little longer than the K visa. This option will allow your spouse to enter the United States as a legal permanent resident. Your spouse will automatically have work authorization and will not need to apply for an EAD card (employment authorization document). Your spouse will also be able to travel abroad using the green card, and will not need to apply for advance parole.
The process starts with the filing of form I-130 Petition for alien relative with the USCIS. Once the I-130 form is approved, you will need to file form DS-230 or form DS-260 with the Department of State. Then, the petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will request additional documentation, including the affidavit of support, passport, birth certificates, marriage certificate, two passport photographs, and other relevant civil documents. Foreign language documents must be accompanied by certified English translations.
Once the NVC has completed its review of the documentation, it will forward the completed package to the US consular office abroad where your spouse is located. You and your spouse will attend a visa interview at the consulate. Your spouse will need to get a medical examination from a panel physician prior to the interview and get the required vaccinations. Biometrics information will be taken at the consulate including fingerprints.
Upon successful completion of this process, your spouse will be granted an immigrant visa that will allow entry into the United States. Consular officer will give return your spouse’s passport with the immigrant visa inside and a packet containing the documents you and your spouse provided. You should not open the packet until after you enter the United States. Your spouse is required to enter the US before the expiration date on the visa. Once your spouse arrives in the US, he/she will be granted permanent resident status, and the green card will soon arrive later by mail.
The entire process takes approximately 7 months, and this time can vary depending on your spouse’s home country and other factors. If you have questions about consular processing or the K visa, please contact our immigration attorneys at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA to schedule a consultation with an attorney at an office near you.