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K1 vs K3 visa - the differences and which is right for you

There are two different types of marriage visa available to those wanting to come to the US and which one is appropriate depends on  your current marital status. If you are engaged and plan to wed in the US then the K1 visa could be the correct option, if you are already married then the K3 visa is the ideal route.

Working with a specialist immigration lawyer can help maximize your chances of a successful application. Call Total Law on +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about how we can help you and your loved ones settle in the United States.

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    The main difference between a K1 visa and K3 visa

    The main difference between the two types of visa is that the K1 fiancé visa is issued to a foreign national who is not yet married to a U.S citizen, while the K3 spousal visa is for couples who are already married.

    Each visa type has different eligibility requirements as well as being valid for different lengths of time. It is advisable to seek advice from legal services before making your application to ensure you have all the necessary documentation and avoid any delays or possible refusal.

    Eligibility for the K1 visa

    To qualify for the K1 visa you must be planning to get married within a short time frame and for the wedding to take place in the US. Once granted the K1 visa holder’s immigration status can be updated to permanent resident and they can begin the green card process once married.

    If you are considering applying for a K1 fiancé visa then you must meet the following requirements:

    • Plan to marry a U.S citizen within 90 days of the foreign partner’s arrival in the US
    • You must have met your partner at least once in person within the two-year period prior to applying for the K1 visa.
    • To marry, both couples must be legally free to do so i.e. they must not be already married to someone else

    K1 visa interview

    Part of the process may involve the future foreign spouse having to attend a visa interview. This could involve being asked questions about their background, plans to marry, their U.S. citizen partner and their relationship.

    If the consular officer is satisfied that both the relationship and plans to marry are genuine, then the foreign fiancé(e) will then be issued a K1 fiance visa.


    Applying for a K1 visa

    Traditionally, applying for a K1 has been seen as relatively straightforward. However, in recent years there has been a tightening up of the process so you may wish to get the advice of an experienced immigration attorney before submitting your application to the citizenship and immigration services. This will help avoid unnecessary delays or additional costs with making your application for the nonimmigrant visa.

    To apply for a K 1 fiancé visa, you must provide the following:

    • Complete the US citizen file Form I-129F.
    • Proof of the petitioner’s citizenship (copy of a passport, certificate of naturalization, or a birth certificate)
    • A copy of the U.S. citizen petitioner’s passport
    • Evidence of a genuine relationship – this can include photos, correspondence, sworn statements from third-parties
    • Proof that you have met in person at least once within the past two years – evidence can include photos, flight details, letters etc
    • Personal written statements from both partners about their relationship and intention to marry
    • Color passport photos of each partner (taken within 30 days of when you submitted the petition)
    • Proof that any previous marriages are legally terminated such as a divorce or death certificates

    The US citizenship and immigration services will review the above information and decide if the requirements have been met or if they needs to be further evidence provided. The National Visa Center will then contact the US Embassy or Consulate in the foreign citizen’s home country to arrange the interview.

    Eligibility for the K3 visa

    The nonimmigrant K3 Spouse Visa allows foreign spouses to enter the country on a temporary basis for up to two years. During that time it is possible to for visa holders to apply for permanent residents status and be granted a green card.

    If you are considering applying for a K3 visa then you must meet the following requirements:

    • You must be legally married outside the US
    • You must be married to a U.S citizen – they must have full citizenship and green card holders are not sufficient enough
    • You must currently reside outside the US

    The US recognises same-sex relationships but it must be noted that only legally wedded husbands or wives are recognised under immigration law for the K3 visa. Couples who live together but are not married will not qualify for the K3 visa.

    If your marriage ends through divorce or annulment before you become a lawful permanent resident then all of your entitlement under the K3 will be removed after a period of 30 days.

    K3 visa interview

    Once the Form I-129 approval status is passed, you will be required to attend an interview. This will be conducted at the US embassy or consulate in your home country and you are usually given around four to six weeks notice of the date.

    The interview will involve a series of questions about your background and your relationship. Once the interview has finished you should hear whether the visa has been approved the same day or the next day.


    Applying for a K3 visa

    To apply for a K3 spouse visa you must apply in the country where the marriage was held and submit a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and then a Form I-129 form.

    The process takes about six to nine months so it is advisable to seek advice from an immigration law firm to avoid any further delays with nonimmigrant visas.

    When submitting your application form for a K3 spouse visa you will need to include the following documents:

    • Your passport, which must be valid for more than six months after the date you plan to enter the U.S.
    • Medical examination and vaccination documents – this can vary depending on your national country
    • Your birth and legal marriage certificates
    • Court and criminal records
    • Evidence that you can financially support yourself and your family once you move to the US

    US Flag

    What do the K1 And K3 visas have in common?

    The K1 and K3 visas do have a lot in common and are seen as a good step for foreign citizens wishing to live in the US as holders can modify their status to become permanent residents if they apply while their visa is valid.

    Both visas are classed as nonimmigrant visas rather than an immigrant visa, even though the visa holders are considered immigrants.

    Both the K1 and K3 visa routes allow holders to bring their dependents to the US and, with the correct documentation, visa holders are able to work and travel. It must be noted that visa holders may receive conditional green cards at first, which they must apply to have changed to become full citizens and this will incur additional fees.

    The key differences between the K1 and K3 visa

    The main difference is who the visa is for – the K 1 is for a US citizen’s partner, where as the K3 is for someone who is already an American citizen’s spouse. There is also a difference in restrictions on travel, with the K1 visa only valid for one entry into the US, where as the K3 allows repeated entry in the country.

    Costs also vary slightly between the two visas.

    For a K1 visa the costs include:

    • UCIS filing fee: $535
    • Application fee: $265
    • Medical exam fee: $200

    For a K3 visa the costs are:

    • UCIS filing fee: $535
    • Application fee: $325
    • Medical exam fee: $200

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      How Can Total Law Help?

      All of our lawyers are fully accredited with the appropriate legal bodies and you may be confident that the information we provide is fully accurate.

      No matter how complex your case is, we can provide a tailored plan to help you achieve your goals. We work tirelessly on your behalf, attempting all legal options to assist you in immigrating to the U.S. with your loved ones and do our best to ensure that your petition is approved.

      We recognize that immigration and visa applications are major decisions in a person’s life and that they can impact many lives.

      That is why we provide the highest care and attention to all of our clients and ensure that they are given all their legal options so that they may make an informed decision about their future and the future of their families.

      Your dedicated immigration lawyer will work with you throughout the entire process, communicating with you regularly to answer your questions and advise on the next steps.

      At the beginning of the process, you can expect us to give you clear and accurate information about how much the process will cost and an anticipated timeline.

      If you have any questions at any stage, our friendly and professional client care teams can work directly with you so that you feel confident in the process.

      Call us on +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with your immigration case. We look forward to assisting you over the phone or by online call.

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