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K3 Visa Thailand: Will We Need to Live Separately?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the K-3 Visa. Specifically we are discussing the issue of a couple having to remain apart while the Visa is being processed. A couple, in this case presumably a Thai National who is living in Thailand who met an American and wishes come to the United States. The couple is presumably married and that is why they are seeking the K-3 to begin with. We will get into underlying visas here in a moment but basically "Do we have to live apart?" I get this question rather frequently and the answer is "Well it really falls to the issue of requirement." 

There is no legal requirement that a couple live apart but where I usually see this question come up is especially retirees here in Thailand who have been in Thailand for a prolonged period of time. They have been married to their Thai spouse and oftentimes we usually see this in a health-related issue where they need to return to the United States for medical reasons and they need to get their wife a visa back to the US; wife or husband for that matter.  In these cases, the long and the short of it is it depends on your circumstances. 

In the past, we had a local USCIS Office here in Bangkok up until October of 2019. That office has been closed. In the past, it was possible to apply for an Immigrant Spouse Visa from that office and generally speaking those cases processed much more quickly compared to their counterparts processing through the United States. I think that that expedited timeline was probably due more just to case load here locally compared to the massive case load that exists in the United States. However, with that Office closing, now those who are seeking visas from Thailand for the United States in a marriage context have to use the same system that those in the United States have to use regardless of the fact they may be resident in the Consular jurisdiction of Thailand.

So the thing to understand is the overall Immigrant Spouse Visa process is rather time-consuming. It can take as long as a year in our experience, sometimes a little longer. Sometimes it can go faster; it depends on the circumstances, but it is going to take a while. If for example if the factual circumstances dictate that the American has to go back before the visa is issued then yes you are probably looking at a situation wherein the couple is going to need to be apart from one another. Note that many marriage visas, many family-based visas, require a prolonged separation oftentimes. This is not particularly an anomaly within the US Immigration System. It takes a while to process these cases, especially cases for green cards. 

The K-3 itself was created as an expedite mechanism under the LIFE Act. It was specifically created to counter the long processing times of the underlying Immigrant Spouse Visas and it was specifically created for spouses of American citizens. Now the Department of State has the ability to administratively close K-3 applications where they are not deemed to be particularly necessary. So if an Immigrant Spouse Visa has already processed through the Department of Homeland security apparatus, then a K-3 Visa may not be warranted. For that reason, there is always a risk that a K-3 may not be processed. There is always a risk that a K-3 could be administratively closed and one has to deal with the Immigrant Spouse Visa.

But that being stated, the thing to take away from this video is depending on a couple's specific circumstances it may or may not be required that they live apart for at least some portion of the processing time of a K-3 Visa.