U.S. citizens have a number of options to bring their Filipino spouses or fiancé(e)s and their children to the United States to become lawful permanent residents. These options fall under the IR, CR and K visa categories, each having its own set of requirements and procedures.
Bringing the Filipino Spouse to the United States
Marriage to a U.S. citizen does not automatically grant U.S. residence or citizenship to the Filipino spouse. He or she must be petitioned by the American spouse and apply for a visa to enter the United States. The Filipino spouse may enter the United States on a K-3 non-immigrant visa, CR1 immigrant visa or IR1 immigrant visa. These three spouse based petitions are issued to qualified beneficiaries of American citizens only. Individuals who are petitioned for by lawful permanent residents do not qualify for a K-3, CR or IR visa.
The IR Visa
A spouse of a U.S. citizen is considered an immediate relative (IR) and is immediately eligible to apply for an immigrant visa under the IR category. The Filipino spouse must be the beneficiary of an I-130 approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition must be filed at the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the petitioner's (American spouse) place of residence. NOTE: Active-duty U.S. military personnel and other U.S Government personnel are considered domiciled in the United States while serving overseas.
Children (below 21 years of age and unmarried) of the Filipino spouse are also eligible to apply for IR visas if individual petitions are filed on their behalf by the U.S. citizen spouse. Under U.S. immigration law, only children under the age of 18 at the time their natural parent married a U.S. citizen are considered “step-children” for immigration purpose. Children who were 18 years or older at the time of the marriage may not be petitioned as step-children. They may be petitioned by the Filipino parent after he/she becomes a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States.
The CR Visa
If the basis for immigration is a marriage that was entered into less than two years prior to the date of the visa issuance and the petition that was filed is an I-130, the spouse of a U.S. citizen or the child of a U.S. citizen is classified as conditional immigrant at the time of visa issuance. The visa category for the spouse is CR1 while that of the child is CR2.
The K (Non-Immigrant) Visa
The K visa is a non-immigrant visa. It does not automatically grant U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to the beneficiaries. Those who qualify for K visas will be able to join their partners in the United States as a non-immigrant, without the potentially long period of separation during the petition process. They will need to adjust their immigration status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents.
When both petitions have been approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) or when USCIS approves the I-130 before the I-129F, the availability of, as well as the need for, a non-immigrant K-3 visa ends.
The NVC is currently automatically converting up to 85% of K-3 visa petition to CR-1 Spousal visa petitions.
If the NVC receives both an approved I-130 petition and an approved I-129F petition: The non-immigrant K-3 visa case will be administratively closed.
K3 visas take just as long as CR1 visas to get approved.
The K3 visa is no longer be a viable option. We recommend the CR-1 Spousal Visa. To learn more about the CR-1 or IR-1 (depending on length of marriage).
The huge advantage that the CR-1 visa has over the K-3 visa is that with the CR-1 you automatically get a Green Card once in the United States (Usually within 1 month) without you having to do anything. With the K-3 visa you must file an adjust your status once in the United States to receive a Green Card. The process can take 6 months or more to get a green card.