K-3 Visas

Ame Coats: My name is Ame Coats.  I’m an immigration attorney with Bashyam Shah in Raleigh, North Carolina.  And I’m here with our managing partner Murali Bashyam.


Murali Bashyam: Hello everybody.


Ame Coats: And, today, we’re gonna be talking to you about a family integration topic: How to sponsor your spouse or fiancé.  Okay, if you’ve done any online research, you’re gonna see K-3 all over the place.  So I wanna explain to you what a K-3 Visa is.  Probably, would say it’s about maybe nine or ten years ago, the way to get your spouse here if you were a U.S. citizen was ridiculous; it was like three years.


People got really, really upset about it, and they convinced congress to create a special visa category to get spouses here more quickly, and that’s called a K-3 Visa.  So when that was started, that was great; it was wonderful.  It really helped get people here faster.  But what’s happened over the last, maybe, four – three or four years I’d say, is that immigration services got their processing times down so much on regular immigrant visas, that I’ve not used the K-3 Visa in probably two years.


Murali Bashyam: I think, Ame, the processing time now to do a regular immigrant visa, which means green card application, is about the same as going through the K-3 Visa process, right?


Ame Coats: It is.  I mean sometimes I’ll file it just to file it to –


Murali Bashyam: Is there any advantage to doing that?


Ame Coats: Just to cover yourself 100 percent because it’s free.  So after you file your _______ petitioned for immigrant visa, that’s when you file for a K-3 Visa, and the government doesn’t charge another fee.  So sometimes I just do it to do it, but I haven’t used one in a year and a half to two years because the immigrant visa has been coming through just as quickly.


Murali Bashyam: I guess it’s good to keep the K-3 in mind in case the processing times do start shifting upwards.


Ame Coats: Absolutely.  Absolutely.  But when people come to the office and they think a K-3 is going to be the same thing to get their spouse here in three months, no, it doesn’t happen that way.  Okay, another option that you have in the ________, this ties back into what we were talking about at the beginning of the presentation about coming on a tourist visa and then applying for adjustment of status.


Well, not everybody tries to do it that way, which really isn’t the right way, and I hope we made that point clear.  But there are some people who are here in the United States in _____ status, or let’s say that you were here as a student at Carolina and that’s how you met your spouse, and your spouse is only a F-1 Visa.  Those people are already here legally.  If someone is already here legally and there was no preconceived intent to come here and commit fraud, then it is possible to adjust that here in the United States without going abroad.


But you gotta be really careful about these fraud issues.  And it doesn’t wok for everybody, but I absolutely recommend that you have a consultation with an immigrant attorney before you file anything.  There’s a big package that needs to be filed with the immigration service.  You can get temporary work authorization.  Travel documents are a little bit – you gotta be careful there because for anyone who’s out of status, that they use a travel document, they could actually cause some huge problems down the road.


Murali Bashyam: So, basically, let’s say my spouse came here; at that time, she was not my spouse, but say five years ago as a visitor, and she was authorized to stay in the United States for six months.  And she overstayed her I-94 card, so she had been here illegally for quite some time.  And then we met and got married, and I want to do all of this for her.  In that situation, you’re saying the travel document is probably not advisable.


Ame Coats: Right.  In the situation you just described, actually, the immigration services will forgive the fact that your spouse has worked without permission and that your spouse has been here illegally.  But there are some issues that come along with that sometimes.  For example, false claims U.S. citizenship, fraudulent social security cards, fraudulent permanent resident cards.  So I can’t give you a neat and clean answer for that one because I do see other issues that go along with being out of status.


Okay, so after that application packet is filed, the immigration service is going to schedule an interview at your local office.  The purpose of the interview is to prove that that marriage is bona fide and that the foreign national is not inadmissible to the United States for any reason.  So as far as the interview goes, I think that if you’re just beginning researching the immigration process, you have this just really ugly, probably an ugly interview pictured in your head, but it’s very rare that couples get separated.  If couples are separated, usually immigration service has a good reason for doing it.


What I see are just general questions with the couple together, such as when did you meet, how long did you date before you got married, where did you get married, who was at the wedding.  And don’t feel bad if you didn’t have a wedding, I’d say at least 75 percent of the people that I meet – not even just in the practice, but just in real life, they don’t have a fancy wedding ceremony anymore.  So you don’t have to have a fancy wedding ceremony to have a bona fide marriage; it’s a whole lot more than that.


So, eventually, the officer is gonna wanna see documents.  Some officers, sure, some officers like to see pictures, but most officers want to see financials.  They want to see that you’re jointly obligated on debt, and that you both have access to the money, joint bank account statements, joint lease, joint deed, joint tax returns, joint utility bill, joint auto insurance.  If you get life insurance through your job or you just happen to have it that you’ve designated your spouse as a beneficiary, joint health insurance, joint membership for things like – even AAA.


And it’s not that you have to have all these things, it’s they’re going to look at the totality of everything you have; they’re going to look at it as a whole.


Murali Bashyam: I think they’re also gonna look at the couple and how they interact with each other, and they also get a feeling of things.  And I think that they have to cover themselves, as well, so the more documentation you have, you know, they’ll make some copies to put back in the file; it covers them if they decide to approve the case.  So as Ame said, you don’t have to have everything that she is listing out, but the more you have, definitely the better.


Ame Coats: Yeah, and then it does have something to do with how you present yourself because as much as we don’t wanna talk about it, people do make stereotypes about other people from the minute they see a couple together, and so you do have to keep that in mind, as well.  I always tell people to dress like they’re going to church.


Murali Bashyam: That’s right.  And know what kind of shampoo your spouse is using, as well.  [Laughter].


Ame Coats: Really?  [Laughter].

Murali Bashyam: We’ve seen that question come up as well.


Ame Coats: I’ve never seen that question.  But I have heard the question once, and this is when a couple was separated a long time ago, just a question like, “What is your husband’s favorite food?”  I think that’s the most idiotic question because, really, doesn’t it just depend on the day?  I don’t know.


Murali Bashyam: Yeah, honestly, I think some of the questions do get complicated, but most of the time, as Ame was discussing, most of the time, if it’s a legitimate relationship –


Ame Coats: And they have a good feeling about you as a couple, they’re not gonna separate you.


Murali Bashyam: And not only that, they’re not really going to go into a lot, most of the time, as well.


Ame Coats: And they don’t have a lot of time to deal with.  Some of these interviewers have 12 interviews to do a day.  They’ve gotta get you out of there because it might the next couple that has a much greater – a big problem with a case.  Okay.  And, also, a far as grounds of inadmissibility, if you been convicted of anything, even if you think your charge has been dismissed, anything that is a non-traffic offense, you need to see an immigration attorney and have them take a look at it.


I mean there are things that you thin are no big deal that are actually a real problem with immigration.  DUIs are becoming a bigger problem.  It used to be that just one might not be a big deal, but we’ve seen some kind of odd things over the years.


Murali Bashyam: Yeah, I think Ame’s point is if you don’t have a complete 100 percent clean record, it’s best to get advice to see if that would cause an issue in filing a case like this.


Ame Coats: Absolutely.  And then, finally, once your spouse gets approved, it’s the same situation as when you enter with an immigrant visa.  If you’ve been married less than two years, you’re getting conditional residency, which is a two-year card.  If you’ve been married two years or more, you’re getting a ten-year card.


Murali Bashyam: If you do have any other questions regarding this topic, all you need to do is send me or Ame an e-mail.  And thank you for attending.


Ame Coats: Yes, thank you for joining us.  Bye-bye.


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