U.S. Citizen and a Thai Spouse: What are the Options?

The oldest and strongest objective of U.S. immigration law is to unite families. The U.S. citizen reunification with their spouse is the core of family reunification. So when a U.S. citizen has married a Thai national, what are the options for them? There are several options and visa categories available for the married couple.

K3 Visa (Non-Immigrant Spouse Visa)

The fastest route toward unification is the K3 visa. It is a non-immigrant visa issued to a Thai spouse permitting her to join her husband in the United States. The primary requirement is that there must be a pending immigrant petition filed by the U.S. citizen for the Thai spouse. The K3 visa is multiple entry two year visa. The Thai spouse can enter the United States and apply for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residency status after the K-3 visa is approved.

IR-1 Visa (Immediate Relative Spouse)

The least expensive route for reunification is the IR-1 or Immediate Relative Spouse visa. The IR-1 is an immigrant visa issued to the foreign spouse of a U.S. Citizen who has been married for more than two years. The petition is filed in the United States. The process generally takes a little bit longer than the K3 visa but there is no need to file an Adjustment of Status petition. The Thai spouse will receive a full 10 year permanent residency status upon entry into the United States. Unlike the CR-1 visa, there is also no requirements to file for the removal of conditions after entry into the United States.

CR-1 Visa (Conditional Resident Spouse)

The CR-1 visa or “Conditional Resident” is similar to the IR-1 visa. The primary difference is that the marriage between the American citizen and the Thai spouse is less than two years. After entry into the United States, the CR-1 spouse will receive a two year conditional permanent residency status. This status is conditioned on the couple remaining married for an additional two year period. The couple will have to jointly file for removal of the conditional status two years upon the Thai spouse‚Äôs entry into the United States. Failure to apply for removal of conditional permanent residency status may result in the Thai spouse being removed from the United States.


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