Marriage in China – IR-1, CR-1 or K3 Visa – Marriage Immigration to the United States


Many U.S. citizens seeking answers to their marriage immigration questions will turn to forums. Unfortunately, people can be biased and may make inaccurate statements. This is an example of what I have come across most recently:  “don’t do a K3 visa, it no longer exists”. To find the truth in 2010, on the IR-1, CR-1, and K3 visa, we will take a good look at the notice recently issued by the United States Department of State, National Visa Center (NVC). Also, to clear up any gray areas, we turn to immigration attorney, Ted Huang for his professional insight.

There have been a few questions concerning what type of visa your Chinese spouse will receive after a marriage in China. These questions have surfaced since the recent notice issued by the (NVC), in regard to an I-129F petition for a non-immigrant K visa, filed with the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. To better understand the workings of the IR-1, CR-1, and K3 visa, and how they are used in marriage immigration in 2010, it will help to look at a brief history.

Before the year 2000, a K3 visa did not exist. In those days, a marriage in China for a U.S. citizen, and the process of marriage immigration to the U.S. meant filing an I-130 petition for an IR-1 or CR-1 immigrant visa. With immigrant visas, the foreign national and their children would complete the visa process overseas. When they entered the border of the United States, they did so as a Permanent Resident (IR-1) if married over two (2) years, or a Conditional Permanent Resident (CR-1) if married less then two (2) years. This process, back in those days, could take 2 to 3 years to get a spouse and children to the United States.

Congress Creates the K3 Visa

In 2000, Congress created the K3 visa as part of the Life Act to reunite families that were subject to long separations. The K3, non-immigrant visa is an adaptation of the fiance visa that uses an I-129F petition in addition to the I-130 to allow for the completion of marriage immigration after entering the United States. For the past 10 years, it was no secret that the quickest way to get a foreign loved one to the United States was with the use of a K non-immigrant visa, sometimes only taking 6 to 8 months, while, at the same time, the CR-1 visa was lagging way behind.

CR-1 Visa and K3 Visa in 2010

The National Visa Center (NVC) has reported that they have eliminated much of their backlogs, including immigrant visas. On February 1st, 2010 they made an announcement stating that, if they (NVC) received an I-130 and the I-129F petitions at the same time they will close the I-129F petition for a non-immigrant K visa. They also state in the notice, that if they don’t receive your I-130 petition and I-129F at the same time, the (NVC) will process your I-129F petition. They (NVC) would then forward your petition to the Embassy or U.S. Consulate where the marriage took place.

Many have asked, what if an I-130 is approved after the I-129F has been sent to the Consulate overseas?

Recently, I sent this question to an immigration attorney, whom I have followed for quite some time. Mr. Ted Huang, with offices in California, offers his readers a newsletter and provides marriage immigration information to the public at his websites and

Questions to Immigration Attorney Ted Huang

Question: “When an U.S. citizen is hoping to have a loved one enter the United States on a K3 visa, they will first file the I-130 and as soon as they receive the receipt notice, will file the I-129F. With the new change, if (NVC) approves the I-129F first and forwards, will they still process the I-130 and close the I-129F before the U.S. Consulate interview”?

Mr. Huang: ” Yes, the I-130 will continue to be processed and the I-129F could be closed”.

Question: “If (NVC) closes an I-129F after the U.S. Consulate mails the information packet to a foreign spouse, will they request a new I-864 Affidavit of Support to replace the I-134”?

Mr. Huang: “The applicant will need to provide a completed I-864”.


If you are filing for a K3, and the (NVC) approves the I-130 and drops the K non-immigrant visa in the process, it could be a good thing.  Your spouse would enter the United States with a CR-1 visa and automatically qualify for a Social Security Number. The CR-1 has a 2 year waiting period to adjust to a 10 year Permanent Resident.

After our marriage in China, my wife Xiaoying, entered the United States on a K3 visa, just eight (8) months after I filed my first paperwork with (USCIS). The K3 visa is good for 2 years. She simply waited till our second year wedding anniversary to adjust status to Permanent Resident, skipping over any conditional classification. So, from the time she arrived in the U.S. to the time she received her ten (10) year Permanent Resident (PR) card, was sixteen (16) months. By applying for a tax ID number while waiting to adjust to (PR), allowed us to file a joint return.

Xiaoying will tell you, as she always tells me, she is a good driver. Don’t get me wrong, she had her own car in China, and if you can drive in China, you can drive anywhere in the world. For Xiaoying, the only real down-side, without a SS number, was that she had to wait for a drivers license. As a husband, that could be a good thing. (LoL). For (16) months, that gave me one less thing to think about.


  1. Greg says:

    Hello, I am at a bit of a crossroads now. Married my Chinese wife on 2/22/2010 in Chengdu, filed the I-130 soon after in the US, and just received the I-797C receipt. Was going to file the I-129 this week but now everything seems a little confusing. Once they receive the I-129, are they going to shift me over to a CR-1?

  2. Randy Marsh says:

    Hi Greg

    Being this notice is so new from (NVC), many people are watching to see how fast they will process a stand alone I-130 Petition. Also, what will happen in the future, with backlogs, because of this announcement, if most people flock to a CR-1. The best chance of your spouse being processed for a K3 visa is to file the I-129F as soon as possible. Being your not filing the I-130 and I-129F at the same time, she could still be processed as K3. As Mr. Huang stated, they could still process the I-130 before the US Consulate interview and from what I read on the Feb.1st notice, they will notify you if that happens.

  3. Darren Cassidy says:

    Hi. I just returned from China and purposed to my new fiancé. Our plan is for her to move in with me and live in the US by May. How does the process work if we have not yet gotten married and we are across the world from each other? any advice on forms or a schedule of what needs to happen would be so appreciated. None of the embassies will give me a straight forward answer.

    Thanks so much,

  4. Randy Marsh says:

    Hi Darren

    As a new visitor, go to my website and subscribe to the series “Coming to America” This free 29 day series will give you a good background in registering for marriage in China, or bringing your fiancee to the United States.

    Either way, it requires lots of paperwork, evidence and documented proof of your relationship. I understand how hard it is to find detailed information even from government websites. The information can be true but misleading. For example, All the US Embassy websites in China tell you, you’ll need a health certificate to marry in China. Well, true if your a U.S. citizen that lives and works in China as a resident. No true for us living in the U.S. And, so it goes for information every step of the way.

    To save months of waiting time we teach others what documents to take to China and most importantly what to bring back for filing petitions and how to register for marriage. Some of the forms need to be signed and filled out by your spouse/fiancee overseas or you will be mailing back and forth.

    We support couples through K-3, and CR-1. This includes email and live support in English and Chinese. When your ready to get down to business go to and join our fellowship. We welcome all new couples.

  5. Greg says:

    Dear Sir,

    I work overseas often and travel often. I meet a girl (chinese) and followed her to China and got married. We are in process of filing the marriage with the US side as we married on China side (red book).

    I work very little in US. I live in USA 6mnths a year. I want to bring her with me to visit quickly as I have a 3 mnth job to go to and I don’t want to leave her alone. Then we will return back to China and many other country’s.

    1. Is there a quick way to get her to USA. I leave in 30 days from now?

  6. Randy & Xiaoying says:

    Hi Greg,
    You will want to go to the U.S. Consulate/Embassy in China and talk with them. The only visa possible would be a tourist visa. Don’t want to get your hopes up. They are not easily acquired. Your spouse will need to show proof that she will return to China. Some example would be assets like a business, home, bank accounts, or Children living in China.

    Good luck to both of you.

  7. Paolo says:

    Dear Sir&Mrs,

    I met a Chinese girl in China during my stay of 3.5 years in China. We married in China in the city of Zhengzhou, in December of 2012. We have met in 2009 and have lived together ever since. We’re planning on visiting USA, in August or September of 2013, my Chinese spouse has got B1/B2 visa type( tourist)
    I am wondering about which documents do I need to fill out for her to apply for green card, would it be safe for her to mention to immigration office in usa at the airport that her husband is American citizen.

    Any reply appreciated

    Best regards,


  8. John Buda says:

    Dear Paolo:

    This is immigration attorney John Buda. I think I can help you, but please send me an email directly at

    There are privacy and confidentiality concerns that I must follow.


    John Buda

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