Here are the 3 possibilities of immigrating or taking steps to immigrate your loved one to the United States through consular processing and their processing times:
1. Consular processing a spousal or family immigrant visa for permanent residency (GREEN CARD): Government processing average wait time- 8 months for visa interview. 3 step process that starts with a petition in the United States.
2. Direct consular processing a spousal or family visa (GREEN CARD): Government processing average wait time- 2 to 4 months for visa interview. 2 step process that starts in the foreign country abroad directly through the consulate. The US citizen must have legal residency in the foreign country to file directly with the consulate.
3. K3 visa through consular processing-PLEASE NOTE:Government processing average wait time- 8 months for visa interview-THE SAME AS CONSULAR PROCESSING FOR THE IMMIGRANT VISA (GREEN CARD!) The K3 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that allows the person to come to the US to finish applying for a spousal visa for permanent residency (Green Card) it is not the residency itself it is only a visa to come to the US and finish the process in the US. TO QUALIFY FOR THE K3 VISA, YOU MUST HAVE MARRIED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
The number one question we receive from our k1k3 law firm is: To K3 or not to K3?
Throughout our experience in family visa matters, most recently we have found that the K3 visa is taking the same amount of time as actually obtaining immigrant status through the embassy. The K3 only allows you to reside temporarily in the US to finish the process for immigrant status.
If both take 8 months, which is what our law firm has been experiencing within the last few years, in most cases it makes sense to process the immigrant visa rather than apply for the K3 visa. Why? It saves you time and money to just apply for the immigrant visa and skip the K3 step!
Check out the government filing fees for both visas to obtain a green card:
K3 Visa fees:
$355.00 for the petition and anywhere from $300 to $500 for consular processing
Once in the US continue for immigrant visa (green card)additional $1010.00
Consular processing for immigrant visa (actually obtaining the residency (GREEN CARD) right there at the consulate!) fees:
$355.00 for the petition $500 approx. for the immigrant processing and anywhere from $300 to $500 for the consular processing.
Both take 8 months to process This means that if you file for immigrant processing rather than the K3, you will save approximately $510.00 and you will have the residency status approximately within the same amount of time as obtaining the K3 visa.
Direct consular processing involves those US citizen petitioners who have legal status in a foreign country and are in the process of moving back to the US with their foreign national spouse and or/children. You must be a legal resident of the foreign national country in order to qualify.
Our consensus and what the leading immigration attorneys and authorities should tell you is to: consular process the immigrant visa to save time and money!