Previously, the USCIS processing times for marriage petitions were extremely lengthy, resulting in the long-term separation of U.S. citizens and their spouses. In December, 2000, the K-3 visa was established. The K-3 visa is issued by the United States embassy or consulate in the spouse’s home country for the purpose of allowing the spouse to legally enter the United States to await the approval of a marriage petition filed by the U.S. citizen with the USCIS. Since approximately February, 2010, however, the USCIS processing time for marriage petitions has significantly shortened. As such, the USCIS has discontinued the processing of K-3 petitions.