On Behalf Of Your Foreign Born Spouse Or Fiance/Fiancee
(Post Only Process Visas For Costa Rican Nationals Or Legal Residents In The Country)
A U.S. citizen who is married to, or is planning to marry, a foreign national may petition for that person to immigrate to the U.S. and obtain legal permanent resident (“LPR”) status.
Fiancée Visas (K-1 and K-2): Fiancée visas can be issued to a foreign nationals (and their minor children) who plan to enter the United States (single) to marry a U.S. citizen. This process begins with the U.S. citizen filing an I-129F petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS), generally in the U.S. The petitioner should contact the USCIS office responsible for his or her area – we recommend you access the USCIS web site for more information: (www.uscis.gov). You will be required to provide proof of the petitioner's U.S. citizenship and evidence of a pre-existing, legitimate relationship with the fiancée.
Once the I-129F petition is approved by USCIS, USCIS will forward the petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (“NVC”). After processing there, the NVC sends the petition to the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. This process takes about six months.
Once the petition arrives here in San Jose, we will contact you. You or your fiancée will be required to pick up a packet of instructions with a list of all the necessary documents required for this process. Among other things, your fiancée will need to undergo a medical exam by a doctor we specify.
Once your fiancée has all the required documents in order, we will set up an appointment for him or her to be interviewed. At that time, you and your fiancée must present an I-134 Affidavit of Support showing that you have sufficient income to support your fiancée without receiving public benefits. Please see the USCIS (www.uscis.gov) web sites for more information about this form. You and your fiancée will also have to demonstrate that your relationship is legitimate and is not simply for purposes of immigrating to the U.S.
Costs: USCIS charges a fee for filing the I-129F. The fiancée must pay an average of $250 for medical exams and any vaccines that might be needed. There is a $131 fee for the visa application.
Once your fiancée enters the U.S., you and your fiancé must marry within 90 days. Once married, you and your fiancée must contact USCIS to change your status to that of legal permanent resident (“LPR”)
Visas for Spouses of U.S. Citizen: A U.S. citizen who is married to a foreign national may petition for that person to immigrate to the U.S. by filing an I-130 petition.
Effective August 15, 2011, petitioners residing overseas are no longer able to routinely file Forms I-130 (Petitions for Alien Relative) with U.S. Embassies and Consulates, except in locations where U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a public counter presence within the Embassy or Consulate. USCIS does not have such presence at Embassy San Jose. Petitioners residing in Costa Rica must therefore file their Forms I-130 by mail with the USCIS Chicago lockbox. U.S. Embassy San Jose will only be able to accept and process Forms I-130 in exceptional circumstances, as outlined below.
As of August 15, 2011, petitioners residing overseas who wish to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, may do so as follows:
- If the petitioner resides in a country in which USCIS has a public counter presence, the Form I-130 may be filed directly with the USCIS field office (see instructions below) or through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the below addresses.
- If the petitioner resides in Costa Rica or any other country where USCIS does not have a public counter presence, the Form I-130 must be filed with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the addresses below, unless the petitioner requests and is granted an exception based on one of the criteria described below:
USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail deliveries:
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107
USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries:
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
For additional information about how to file a Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox, please see the USCIS website or contact USCIS by phone at 1-800-375-5283.
Exceptional Filing at U.S. Embassies or Consulates without a USCIS Field Office:
Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners residing in Costa Rica, but who believe that their situation merits an exception, may request an exception to allow the Consular Section at the Embassy to accept the filing. Each request for an exception will be evaluated individually.
A petitioner seeking to file a Form I-130 at an Embassy or Consulate where USCIS does not have a presence should contact the Consular Section to request consideration of the request for exception and explain the circumstances in detail. The Consular Section will then relay the request for an exception to the USCIS field office with jurisdiction over the Embassy or Consulate. The determination of whether the case presents exceptional circumstances that warrant an exception to the general filing process will be made by USCIS. USCIS will be publishing guidance on the circumstances that may qualify as exceptional on their website .
Please contact the Consular Section at U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica for more information: Monday through Friday, except Wednesday, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., to the following telephone numbers: 2519-2274, 2519-2458 or through the email address: sanjoseIV@state.gov.
As soon as USCIS approves an I-130 petition, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (“NVC”). The NVC will contact the applicant regarding any additional documents that may be required. Once the case is ready, it will be sent to the Consulate here in San Jose. Unfortunately, we cannot reliably estimate how long this process will take, but you can find additional information on the USCIS website.
As soon as we receive the petition from the NVC, we will contact you to advise you of the next steps. At that point you must show you are a U.S. citizen, and you must present an original marriage certificate. If the marriage took place in Costa Rica, you must present a certificate from the Civil Registry, not a lawyer's certification. You must also present original or certified copies of divorce or death certificates terminating any prior marriages. All documents must be translated into English. You will also be required to submit proof that the marriage relationship is legitimate and is not merely for purposes of immigration. Your foreign spouse must also undergo a medical exam by a doctor we specify, obtain police records, and complete various other requirements. Once the spouse has the results, we interview him or her. At that time, the spouse will have to present an I-864 affidavit of support from the petitioner showing the petitioner has sufficient income to support the spouse without receiving public benefits. Please see the USCIS web site for more information.
Costs: The fee for the petition is $420. The visa application costs $404. The medical exams cost about $250.
K-3 Visas: A K-3 visa is for the legally married spouse of U.S. citizens (and his or her minor children) who is the beneficiary of an I-130 petition that has not yet been approved by USCIS. This type of visa, which was created by Congress to address delays in the regular IR1 visa process, allows the holder to travel to the United States and become an LPR via adjustment of status.
To apply for a K-3 visa, you must send a Form I-129F, along with a copy of your Form I-797 (Notice of Action stating the I-130 has been received by USCIS), additional forms, and the required fee, to the following address:
U.S. Department Of Homeland Security
U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Services
P.O. BOX 7218
Chicago, IL 60680-7218
USCIS forwards the approved Form I-129F to the National Visa Center, which then sends it to the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. Once we receive the petition here, we will send you a package of instructions.
The consular officer cannot decide whether or not you qualify for a K-3 visa until you formally apply and are interviewed. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you NOT make flight arrangements or other travel plans until you actually receive your visa.
Once you enter the United States on a K-3 visa, you and your spouse must contact USCIS to change your status to that of legal permanent resident. The change of status is NOT automatic.
Important Note: The law requires that a K-3 visa for an applicant who married a U.S. citizen outside the United States be issued by a consular officer in the foreign state in which the marriage occurred.