K3 Spouse Guide to Green Card
The purpose of the K3 visa is almost identical to that of the K1 visa, the only difference is that in this case the alien is already married to the American citizen. The K3 visa is designed to get the alien in the US while the alien continues to wait for their green card to be processed. In times past the processing of the K3 I-129 form was a lot faster than the I-130 form than triggered the green card there fore it made sense for clients wanted to relocate in the shortest possible time (6 months to a year) to opt for the K3. Recently the processing times between the K3 and the ‘direct to green card’ I-130 applications take roughly the same time.
Where this continues to remain the case the K3 has become obsolete. The best thing to do in your case is to compare the two processing times before making decisions with way.
Even though for K3 visas and I-130 ‘direct to green card’ cases are based on the couple being married already make no mistake the level of scrutiny over the case is as intense as it is for the K1 fiancee visa. This having been said the longer the couple have been married and perhaps they have had children together, this does making the case somewhat easier to establish as being genuine.
Where clients enter the US on a K3 visa the next step is for them to apply for an interim work permit while we then also file for their green card. These cases are easier said than done, because as with the K-1 visa US Immigration (USCIS) will do what they normally do; they re-examine the basis on the K3 visa case as well as the new documentation for the green card application which they call an ‘adjustment of status’ (AOS): adjusting the alien from a non-immigrant visa (K3 visa) to the permanent green card. When you think about it, there is an advantage to going down the direct to green card’ route from the alien’s home country, at least this way when the alien arrives in the US in green card status they do not have to worry about any more immigration procedures. This is almost true.
For most fiance(e)s and newly married couples once they get they green cards they might notice that the green card that is issued is only valid for two years. These green cards are typically issued when the alien has been married for less than two yeas prior to their green card application, but not always. This is called a conditional green card. This means that18 to 24 months after their green card has been issued the couple are required to file what is called a Removal of Condition to USCIS. The Removal of Condition application application is basically just like the original K1 visa, K3 visa or ‘direct to green card’ application originally filed. This is a safe guard measure USCIS created to see if the couple or still together and happily married or was the relationship fabricated but USCIS did not catch it the first time around. This having been said there are marriages that will not make it even two years. for example, what if the US citizen begins cheating on the alien, or wore still started beating the alien, is the alien supposed to endure the abuse for a full two years before leaving the relationship without risking deportation. Under exceptional circumstances the alien will be able to file the Removal of condition on their own with representations to explain why the marriage lasted less than two years despite the fact it was entered into in all good faith. We have handled these types of applications and thankfully, these cases are less common than one might think.
Where the alien enters the US under the K3 visa they may travel back and forth between their home country and else where, but we need to make what is called a Travel Document application. This Travel Document officially let’s USCIS know that you’re leaving the country should not be interpreted as being an abandonment of your application. Without this application being made, if you leave the country USCIS will simply abandon your case and upon your return you will have to start the process all over again. Once you have your green card in your hand you can of course travel as frequently as you wish.
The purpose of the above is merely to give you an outline as to some of the major issues to consider when making these K1 visa and K3 visa applications. Best advice is to never try and undertake any legal matter without representation because if you mess it up you may end up not being able to travel to the US at all, or at the very best, you may have a very stressful time worrying about whether you completed the application correctly or submitted sufficient evidence. If USCIS take issue with your application will an attorney be able to complete it. I get quite a few cases from people who have tried to file the case themselves only to have it back fire and then they’re asking me to fix it for them. I’m always dubious as to the wisdom of taking on these types of cases. Sometimes, I can take them on and unravel the mess whilst other times I have to tell the alien that I cannot fix it because they are now subject to some kind of 3-10 year bar. let me give you a particular example.
I had someone call, who came to the US and started the immigration process or adjustment of status. The case was poorly prepared so USCIS asked them to file more paperwork, somehow USCIS lost their paper and the client also moved to a new address. USCIS closed the case with a denial but the alien never knew they just thought their case was taking a long time. The following year the alien’s mother got sick so she left the US to visit without completing a travel document. After the crisis was over she attempted to return to the US. Upon her arrival she was deported because she had over stayed her last visa by more than a year and since her adjustment application was denied she had been an illegal alien and had now become subject to a mandatory ten year bar. She had absolutely no idea. I asked her if she had any legal representation from anyone and her reply was that she had spoken to a couple different lawyers on the phone and talked to someone within USCIS and everyone told her that what she was doing was OK. Clearly it was not. All of the above could have been avoided if she had been actually represented by legal counsel at all times. Lawyers are very wearing of losing their license, if you knew who hard taking and passing the State Bar Exam is you’d know what I mean, so lawyers when they actually take on a case become legally responsible for all the advice they give and assume total care and control over the case. In this way if the case has various twists and turn they should have the expertise to smooth out the case to a satisfactory conclusion. Not all lawyers are diligent, but you get the point that having a professional licensed attorney representing you who may have done hundreds of these cases before, is going to be better than the alien for whom this is their first time.
I hope the above outline gives you plenty of food for thought. The above is not intended to put you off or frighten you, but to caution you. I would be happy to hear from you with the hope that if you chose to hire us to represent you you could give us the privilege of taking on all of this stress off your shoulders. It’s not stressful to us since we do these cases day in and day out.
US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
Tel: 310 496 4292
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Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.
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