For couples where one partner is a US citizen and the other a foreign national, a marriage green card is essential. With a marriage green card, the foreign national has the freedom to live with their spouse in the US.
However, just living in the US is not the only benefit that comes with being a green card holder. Such an individual also has the liberty to work freely in any company or organization in the United States.

For Foreign National Spouses Residing Outside the United States

If you are a foreign national married to a US citizen or green card holder and residing in the US. You are eligible to apply for a green card, also known as lawful permanent residency. However, the privileges are different for the two categories of couples, where the spouse of the US citizen benefits more. As the spouse of a US citizen, you can apply for a green card as an immediate family immigrant.
First, the US citizen spouse will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS. Once the USCIS receives the petition, it will send the immigration case to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is in charge of the initial processing of the immigrant marriage visa. If the NVC is satisfied with the filing and all the supporting documents submitted, it will schedule a visa interview for the couple.
The US consulate abroad will hold an immigrant visa interview for the visa applicant. The interview will cover a final review of the required supporting documents and a public charge review.
Also, the visa interview may be held separately for both couples to determine the bona fides of the relationship. If the immigration officer is satisfied with everything, the foreign national will be granted an immigrant visa.
Once an immigrant visa is granted, the foreign national spouse is free to enter and live in the US. They will become a lawful permanent resident once they enter the country, obtaining their green card within days of entry.

Is the K-3 Visa an Immigrant Visa?

The K-3 visa is often used interchangeably for the immigrant visa for foreign national spouses. However, the K-3 visa is a separate and distinct visa for the spouse of a citizen of the United States.
It is a non-immigrant visa that originally started as a means to shorten the physical separation between US citizens and their spouses. This visa gives alien spouses the option to have a nonimmigrant visa to enter the US and await the approval of their petition.
The K-3 visa was carried out in conjunction with the Form I-130 petition; then an Adjustment of Status follows once approved. However, the K-3 visa is no longer a viable option for most couples to obtain an immigrant visa more quickly.
The NVC and USCIS processing of I-130 in the recent past have made the K-3 process obsolete. For instance, the USCIS only issued five K-3 visas in 2019, while nearly 84,000 IR-1/CR-1 visas were issued that same year.

For Foreign Nationals Residing in the US

If you’re married to a US citizen or permanent resident and reside in the US, you have two options. You can either apply for a green card with Form I-130 alone or add Form I-485 or Adjustment of Status. If you are filing for an Adjustment of Status, it is recommended that you plan in advance, especially if you’re employed. This is because filing for an Adjustment of Status takes a significant amount of time to process.
For foreign nationals resident in the US through lawful admission, the US citizen spouse files Form I-130 with the USCIS. Then, they either file I-485 with I-130 or separately if the latter is already filed, with evidence of the filing.
The NVC takes care of the initial processing of the two petitions after which an interview is set at the USCIS field office. Once approved and the interview is successful, the foreign national becomes a lawful permanent resident.

Herman Legal Group is Here to Help

We have a dedicated team of immigration lawyers in North Carolina who can help you through this green card process. We can help you figure out the process for obtaining a green card for your foreign national spouse. Whether they are in the US or outside, our North Carolina immigration lawyers have the expertise and experience to ease the process.
If you’d like to know more about our services, do not hesitate to book online or contact us at +1-216-696-6170.


The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) understands the need for couples to be together. However, it is also aware that many people fake their marriage or enter into it simply for these immigration benefits.
Thus, couples are expected to fill out certain forms, submit supporting documents, and attend a green card interview. The USCIS officer will use all of these to confirm that the marriage is real and that the green card is well deserved.

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