There are two types of marriage-based immigration permits: the K1 and K3. However, there is a significant distinction between the two: the K1 fiancé visa permits immigrants to live in the United States in order to marry a U.S. citizen, whereas the K3 visa is for couples who have already entered into a marriage contract.

K1 Fiance Visa

The K1 visa may be the best option for you if you match the following criteria:

The K1 visa enables international fiancés to marry in the United States. The K1 recipient’s immigration status will be changed to permanent residency and they will receive a green card upon marriage. The K1 visa is for you if you wish to be married as soon as possible and choose to hold your wedding in the United States.

2 Hands Showing Passports

To be eligible for a K-1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You plan to marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days of the foreign partner’s arrival in the United States.
  • You must have met your partner at least once in person within the two-year period prior to filing the visa petition.
  • To marry, both couples must be legally free to do so.

Procedure For Submitting An Application

To apply for a K-1 visa, you must complete the following steps:

  • Have the sponsoring U.S. citizen file Form I-129F.
  • After receiving a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC), submit a completed Form DS-160 together with other required documentation, such as a medical examination and two passport-style photographs, to apply for a K-1 visa.
  • Go to a U.S. embassy or consulate for an interview.
  • Your passport will be stamped with a visa stamp.

K3 Spousal Visa

The K-3 spousal visa permits foreign spouses of American citizens to temporarily enter the United States while they wait for their green card. The K-3 visa is for couples who already entered into a legal marriage while outside of the  United States.

To be eligible for a K-3 spousal visa, you must meet the following requirements:

Husband Holding Wife's K3 Spousal Visa and Passport

  • You must be the legal spouse of a U.S. citizen and currently reside outside of the United States.
  • You must file Form I-130.
  • The spouse who is a U.S. citizen must meet specific income standards.
  • If you wish to bring your children to the United States, they must be unmarried and under the age of 21.

Process Of Application

The K-3 application procedure is as follows:

  • Have your U.S. citizen spouse complete Form I-129F and attach all necessary documentation.
  • Fill out the DS-160 form and include all relevant documentation.
  • Show up for the visa interview.

What Are The Similarities Between The K1 And K3 Visas?

  • Both visas are utilized by U.S. citizens to bring loved ones to the United States.
  • Both visas are non-immigrant visas, despite the fact that visa holders are considered immigrants.
  • While in the United States, K1 and K3 visa holders can modify their status to become permanent residents.
  • Holders of K1 and K3 visas are permitted to bring their children to the United States.
  • Form I-129F is used to apply for both visas.
  • K1 and K3 visa holders may receive conditional green cards at first, which they must apply to have removed.
  • With valid USCIS documentation, dual visa holders can work and travel.

What Are The Differences Between The K1 And K3 Visa?

Person sliding passport into a bagpack

  • The K1 visa is for an American citizen’s fiancée(é) (intended before marriage), whereas the K3 visa is for an American citizen’s spouse (intended for after marriage).
  • Unlike the K3, the K1 visa does not require an immigrant petition (Form I-130).
  • Offspring of K1 visa holders can modify their status without filling out Form I-130, but children of K3 visa holders must fill out a separate Form I-130.
  • K1 visa holders must alter their status in order to receive a green card; however, once their I-130 is granted, K3 visa holders can choose between adjustment of status and consular processing.
  • The K-1 visa is only valid for one entrance. The K-3 permits repeated entry into the United States.

How Do You Decide?

The K-1 visa is best for engaged couples if one or more of the following conditions are met:

  • The two of you want to begin your life together in the United States as soon as possible — the K1 visa takes seven months instead of the K3 visa’s 10 to 13 months.
  • You wish to marry in the United States.
  • Getting married in another country is difficult. The foreign partner, for example, may reside in a nation where same-sex marriage is prohibited.

The K3 visa, on the other hand, is ideal for couples who:

Limited Budget Working Couple Holding K3 Visa

  • Are working with a limited budget – the K3 visa costs around $1,200 instead of $2,025 for the K1.
  • The partner who is applying for a green card wants to become a permanent resident as soon as they arrive in the United States.
  • They intend to marry outside of the United States.
  • Don’t mind waiting for the foreign partner to arrive in the United States – it usually takes at least 10 to13 months.

The Bottom Line

In recent years, the K3 visa has become outdated due to its difficulty and length. We propose that you instead consider applying for a spousal visa under the IRI or CR1 categories.

Whatever visa you choose, it’s critical to locate an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you meet all requirements, submit all essential evidence, and that your case stays on track and has the highest chance of success. If you have any questions or concerns regarding which type of visa is going to be in your best interest, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of professionals at Pride Immigration.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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