K1 Fiancee Visa & K3 Marriage Visa Comparison
Visa issues are often are an important factor when US Citizens decide whether to marry their foreign fiancee at home or abroad. The following FAQ touches on some of the most important considerations including the difference in processing times for the K1 and K3 visas, issues regarding protection of assets and differences in the adjustment of status process.
Q: Should I petition for a K1 fiancee or K3 marriage visa for my fiancee?
This is a personal decision best arrived upon by considering your and your fiancees' objectives. A K1 fiancee visa would give you and your fiancee the opportunity to determine whether you, as a couple, can adjust and make a final decision to live together as husband and wife in the US. If a marriage does not occur for any reason your fiancee would have to return to her home country within 90 days of his or her arrival and you would both be free to pursue other relationships.
Persons seeking a prenuptial agreement to protect assets need to consider strategic reasons for choosing one jurisdiction for marriage over the other. These considerations may include location of assets, choice of forum and choice of law in a potential divorce case and the relative strength of a prenuptial agreement in the jurisdictions.
If your overriding concern is to be united in the US with your fiancee as soon as possible then the K1 fiancee visa is probably the best option. Processing time is generally one to two months longer for marriage visas because of the additional step of filing an immigration petition and actually getting married.
How long does it take for the K3 marriage visa to be approved?
Although processing time for the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the US Consular Office varies tremendously, for a standard case, it generally takes 6-8 months for the K3 visa to be issued from the date on which the initial petition is filed.
How long does it take to obtain a K1 fiancee visa?
Processing times vary based on the backlog at the both the USCIS and the Consular Post. Petitions must be submitted to the Regional Service Center of the USCIS which has jurisdiction over the residence of the US citizen. Processing times vary substantially between centers and also fluctuates depending on the number of petitions received in any given time period.
On average the entire K1 visa application process takes between 5 -7 months with the processing time at the USCIS generally taking between 1-4 months and processing at the Bangkok Consular Post taking 1-2 months. US citizens able to establish residence in Thailand may be eligible to file their visa petition at the USCIS Regional Service Center in Bangkok, which generally has a substantially shorter processing time.
What is adjustment of status and how does the process differ for K1 fiancee and K3 marriage visa holders?
K visas are a special class of visas created to allow the fiancees and spouses of US citizens to unite with their partner in the US without having to wait for an immigration petition to be processed. As a result, when K visa holders enter the US, they are accorded non-immigrant status and must file for permanent residence status (i.e. file to adjust status) after entering the U.S.
K1 and K3 visa holders' immigration claim is made on the basis of their marriage to a US citizen. For K3 visa applicants, this marriage occurs before they enter the US and the immigration petition is filed prior to or at the same time as the K3 visa petition. K1 visa applicants, on the hand, have to file their immigration petition in the US when filing for conditional permanent resident status. As a result, K3 visa holders are generally able to be accorded permanent resident status faster than K1 visa holders.
If your fiancee will need to return to her home country or travel outside of the US shortly after coming to the US then a K3 visa may be a better option. K3 marriage visas are multiple entry visas whereas K1 visas are single entry visas. K3 marriage visa holders may apply to adjust status abroad whereas K1 visas holders must apply in the US and may not leave the US during the adjustment of status process without seeking advance permission.
Want to know more? Check out our K1 Fiancee Visa FAQ, K3 Marriage Visa FAQ or our Adjustment of Status FAQ.