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International Marriage in Thailand: An Overview

By Chaninat & Leeds

Since the waning days of the Vietnam War, Thailand has transformed itself from an enigmatic kingdom, occupying the strategic space between British India and French Indochina, into a tourist powerhouse, attracting close to 15 million visitors annually. While most of the tourists satisfy themselves with a passing inspection of the magnificent temples of Bangkok and Ayudhya and a brief sojourn at the splendid beaches of Pattaya and Phuket, an increasing number of visitors, impressed by the beauty of Thailand, its relaxed lifestyle and the relatively low cost of living, decide to make the country their home and proceed to look for ways of achieving the said objective.

For many, getting a job as an English teacher provides the fastest way of establishing Thai residency. For many others—mostly older western men yearning for a change in their lives—marriage with a Thai lady appears to be the ticket to a new life. For those contemplating the latter course, this article suggests a number of factors to consider before formalizing the relationship, especially if one intends to bring his/her Thai spouse or fiancé(e)  to the United States on a US visa, Thailand based application.

K1 (Fiancé(e)) Visa Requirements for Thais

An American citizen wishing to bring his/her fiancé(e) to the United States must meet a number of requirements. The US citizen must first file a petition with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Washington, DC, which, if approved, is subsequently forwarded to the US Embassy in Bangkok. Once the applicant gathers all the necessary documentation for the K1 visa application,  he /she must appear in person for the interview at the US Embassy. Upon the approval of the K1 visa the Thai fiancé(e) of the American citizen may travel to the United States and stay in the country for a period not exceeding 90 days. After arriving in the US, the fiancé(e) of an American citizen will be eligible for a work permit. The application process may take longer than 90 days, however. If the couple decides to get married during the allowed 90-day stay period, the fiancé(e) of the American citizen must petition for a US visa adjustment of status. A K1 visa application for Thai citizens typically takes 5 to 7 months to process.

K3 (Spousal) Visa Requirements for Thais

A US citizen planning to bring his/her Thai spouse to the United States must file two (2) petitions with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). The first is the Petition for Alien Relative (form I-130). The second is the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (form I-129F)a. Upon approval after a K3 visa Thailand interview, the Thai spouse of the American citizen is allowed to enter the US for a period of not exceeding 2 years. An application for legal permanent residence must be filed within that two-year time period.

Thai citizens applying for either K1 or K3 visa must pay an application fee of $350.

In order to ensure accuracy and avoid unnecessary delays – such as in cases of filing K1 visa multiple times – it may be wise to utilize the services of an experienced US immigration lawyer in Thailand.


When two people are madly in love and planning to get married, the last thing on their mind is legal issues pertaining to the division of assets at the divorce. Yet statistics in the United States show that divorce is not only a possibility, it is likely to occur. During the mid-1990s first marriage in the United States had a median duration of 6.6 years from marriage to separation.

To prevent a waste of money and years of emotional anguish on litigated divorce, individuals should consider having a written, formal agreement that is commonly called a prenuptial agreement because it is negotiated and signed before marriage is formalized.

In the United States, all fifty states recognize prenuptial agreements. These agreements are also recognized in the District of Columbia.


In spite of the rapid transformation in the last three decades, Thailand remains a largely traditional society where family cohesion trumps individual ambitions. Hence, the vast majority of marriages in the country do not result in divorce. The nation’s divorce rate is around 0.58 per 1,000 people, compared to 4.95 for the United States and 3.08 for the United Kingdom.

Whereas arranging a marriage in Thailand is a relatively straightforward process, obtaining a divorce can be slightly more complicated.

If one of the spouses will not amicably agree to a divorce, the other party would have to initiate a litigated divorce process by filing with the courts for a divorce “for cause.” In order to proceed with the divorce in this circumstance, the party that initiated the process would need to assert grounds for divorce and make a personal appearance in court.

Related Articles:

K1 or K3: US Visas for Thais

US K1 Fiance visa for Thais