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U.S. Immigration for Children of Thai Fiancées and Spouses
By Chaninat & Leeds
Obtaining United States visas for children born to a Thai parent engaged or married to an American citizen is often a major concern. These parents may fear that they risk being separated from their children if they choose to reside in the U.S. with their fiancées or spouses. The US K2 and K4 visas enable foreign parents to live with their children in the U.S. as the children’s immigrant visas are processed.
US Visas for Thai Children
A child must be the offspring of a foreign fiancée holding a K1 visa Thailand or a foreign spouse holding a K3 visa Thailand to be eligible for a K2 or K4 visa. K2 visas are available for children of foreign fiancées holding or applying for a K1 fiancée visa; and K4 visas are available for children of foreign spouses holding or applying for a K3 marriage visa. Because the K2 and K4 visas are derivative visas, the U.S. citizen sponsor need not send a separate, approved I-129F Petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the child. The U.S. citizen should file the I-129F Petition on behalf of the K1 or K3 visa seeker and include the child’s name on this application, thereby eliminating the need to file separately and obtain a K2 or K4 visa. Multiple children can be listed on this petition.
The child is required to be under 21 years of age and unmarried in order to be considered for a K2 or K4 visa. Additionally, the child and stepparent relationship must have been established before the child was 18 years old. The age and martial status requirements must be true at the time the child applies for the visa at the U.S. embassy in Thailand and on the day that the child enters the U.S. Children of Thai fiancées and spouses can conveniently apply for a K2 or K4 visa at the same time as their parent at the U.S. embassy in Thailand. Be forewarned, however, that as of June 4, 2010, all K visa-processing fees were increased to $350.
The K2 child must enter the U.S. either with the K1 visa parent, or within one year from when the parent was issued the K1 visa. U.S. immigration for children of foreign fiancées becomes longer and more complicated if the child enters after the one year time period. In the case of K1 fiancée visa holders, marriage to the U.S. citizen must take place within 90 days of the K1 holder entering the U.S. The child K2 visa holder can remain legally in the US for these 90 days, but will have to leave the U.S. if the K1 parent does not marry within this timeframe. U.S. immigration for children of foreign spouses is different, as K4 visa holders can remain in the U.S. for two years or until they turn 21. They are allowed multiple entries into the U.S. during the two years.
Once the K2 or K4 child has entered the U.S., the citizen stepparent has 90 days to file form I-130 for the child’s permanent resident status. If there are multiple children, each child must file a separate petition. Failing to file the I-130 petition within 90 days will prolong the child’s U.S. immigration process.
Both the K2 and K4 visas allow children to enroll in school and apply for Employment Authorization I-765. Holders of the K4 visa can travel outside the U.S. on short trips and reenter while the K4 visa is still valid.
The K2 and K4 visas allow you to be with your child as his or her U.S. immigration process develops. Correct and timely filing by the U.S. citizen sponsor and the foreign fiancée or spouse is crucial to aid the child’s status. Uniting your family in the U.S. is achievable when done through a step-by-step immigration process.
Bringing the Children of a Thai Spouse to America
K1 Visa and K3 Visa Comparison Thailand