U.S. Citizen’s Guide to Immigrating a Japanese Spouse to the United States

There are three options to immigrating a Spouse of a US Citizen to the United States:

  • CR-1/IR-1 Spousal Immigrant Visa
  • Adjustment of Status
  • K-3 Spousal Visa

Lets dive into a brief understanding of the three options:

CR-1/IR-1 Visa: Spousal Immigrant Visa

The CR-1/IR-1 Visa is the most likely option if you married your Japanese spouse in Japan. This visa is commonly referred to as “Consular Processing,” which both the Tokyo US Embassy and the Naha US Consulate would assist in this visa process.

The process is commonly referred to as a 2-Step process; however, it is better understood in the following phases:

  1. Electronic I-130 Petition at USCIS. The process verifies the marriage and makes a spouse Green Card-eligible based on marriage upon the I-130 approval.
  2. DS-260 is completed and supporting documents uploaded to the NVC.
  3. NVC Receives the scheduled interview’s day and time from the DOS.
  4. A Consulate Account is set up and the Interview Instructions are reviewed.
  5. The Immigration Medical is performed prior to the Interview.
  6. DS-260 Applicant is interviewed at the Tokyo US Embassy or the Naha US Consulate
  7. The Passport, Visa. and Immigration Medical is returned by mail, instructions to pay an Immigrant Fee is received and to USCIS, and the Immigrating Spouse board a plane to the US
  8. After passing through US Customs, the Immigrant Status is received and temporarily prove by the CR-1/IR-1 Visa for 1 year, a Social Security Card is normally automatically ordered, and a Green Card arrives in the mail within 4 months from USCIS.

General Government Cost (as of May 29 2020): $1200

Average Processing Time (as of May 29 2020): 10 to 12 months

Adjustment of Status: Marriage in the United States to a Japanese Spouse

The Adjustment of Status process depends heavily on the type of visa used to enter into the US and generally marriage to occur in the United States. More information on the Adjustment of Status, the following blog Post would be helpful:

Tourist Visa and ESTA/VWP: Consular Processing Versus Adjustment of Status

General Government Cost (as of May 29 2020): $1760

Average Processing Time (as of May 29 2020): 3 months to 5 years depending on USCIS Jurisdiction

K-3 Spousal Visa: Married in Japan or Abroad and entering the US possibly quicker than the CR-1/IR-1 Visa

A K-3 Spousal Visa filing can be a confusing process. To start, the K-3 is “fading,” meaning it has become a less popular and less utilized visa option. In Fiscal Year 2017, only 15 K3 Visas were issued. More statistics on the K-3 Visa can be found below:

The K3 Visa: The Nearly Forgotten Spousal Green Card Visa

HOWEVER!!!! This option may be more beneficial than the CR-1/IR-1 Visa. It is essentially the K-1 Fiance Visa process that merges the above (1) Consular Process CR-1/IR-1 Visa and (2) Adjustment of Status process, but has two main benefits:

  • Spouse arrives into the US earlier than the CR-1/IR-1 Visa would have permitted
  • Spouses experience more involvement in the process and more forms, which has that “ball in your court feeling.”

Downside: The overall immigration process can be significantly longer.

General Government Cost (as of May 29 2020): $2205

Average Processing Time (as of May 29 2020): 1 year to 6 years

The K-3 Visa has 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Part 1: Electronic I-130 Petition. Part 2: I-129F Petition for K-3 Visa filed by paper with USCIS
  • Step 2: DS-160 K-3 Fiancee Visa application filed with the US Embassy or Consulate in Japan
  • Step 3: I-485 Adjustment of Status filing with USCIS to receive a Green Card after entering the US with the K-3 Spousal Visa

How many Interviews are there under the K-3 Visa?

There are generally 2 interviews.

  1. During Step 2 of the process, the Japanese Spouse must attend an interview. The US Citizen cannot enter the US Embassy, and normally must await across the street, if they are present in the country. So, the US Citizen is not required to appear for the Consular Interview.
  2. However, during Step 3 of the process, if a green card interview is scheduled, BOTH spouses must appear.

Are there any Consular Interview instructions?

Immigrant visas (CR-1/IR-1/K-1/K-3) to the United States are processed for citizens and residents of Japan at either the US Embassy in Tokyo or the US Consulate in Naha.

Tokyo Instruction Link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Supplements/Supplements_by_Post/TKY-Tokyo.html

Naha Instruction Link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Supplements/Supplements_by_Post/NHA-Naha.html

What if a filing is already submitted, and taking too long, how can the average processing time be checked?

The below blog post helps locate the USCIS Tool to see up-to-date processing times. If a filing is taking too long, it is best to see if it is processing at the same pace as others.

How do I check USCIS processing times?

If the filing is processing slowly, the USCIS Website has an electronic request submission feature that would ask for a USCIS Officer to look into the matter and see what is the delay. The link to that submission feature should be used after checking the average processing time. It is not possible to submit a request early. Only requests outside of normal processing time are able to use the following Electronic Request Submission link: https://egov.uscis.gov/e-request/displayONPTForm.do?entryPoint=init&sroPageType=onpt

What documents are required?

Our office has an Immigration Checklist here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/immigration-checklist-what-our-law-office-generally-recommends/

What happens if the Japanese Spouse is pregnant with a US Citizen’s Child?

Many believe the baby or newborn would need a visa to enter the US. Although an Immigrant Visa is available for children, any children of US Citizens should determine whether the baby would acquire US Citizenship at birth.

The CRBA Process (More info found here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/children-born-abroad-how-to-get-citizenship-from-parents/) registers the birth in Japan, whichever US Embassy or Consulate is more convenient or available:

  • U.S. Embassy Tokyo
  • U.S. Consulate in Sapporo
  • U.S. Consulate in Osaka
  • U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka
  • U.S. Consulate in Naha

More Information found here: https://jp.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/child-family-matters/birth/

The CRBA Process provides the US Citizen child a US Passport, a US Social Security Card, and a proof of US Citizenship in the form of a CRBA Certificate that will never expire.

If you require assistance with the immigration process, please consider contacting our office to set up a consultation with our Immigration Attorney.


Related Blog Posts:

Japanese Birth Certificate for US Immigration Purposes

Japanese Marriage Certificate and Divorce Decree for US Immigration Purposes

Template Cover Letter for USCIS Immigration Filings

Electronic I-130: A New E-filing Option

What does a USCIS Receipt Number (MSC, LIN, SRC, EAC, WAC, IOE) Mean?




Disclaimer: This Blog is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Leave a Comment