K-1 / K-3
In Comparison: Getting Fiancé (K-1) or Spouse Visa (K-3)
If you are a US citizen, you have several options to bring your significant other into the United States. In most common cases, you can either apply for a K-1 Visa, which is an appropriate visa for your fiancé, or a K-3 Visa, which is an appropriate visa for your spouse. There is often confusion over the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Fiancé VISA: K-1
The process tends to be slightly less complicated than for K-3 visa;
- K-1 visa tends to have a shorter waiting period than K-3;
- K-1 is a single entry visa. Your fiancé cannot travel freely under a K-1 and would have to apply for advance parole if he/she needs to travel outside the United States;
- K-1 does not allow your fiancé to work in the United States. Your fiancé must apply for a work permit in order to work in the United States. However, this is not different from the K-3.
- There must be no legal barrier preventing you and your fiancé from getting married in the United States (for example, you would not be legally entitled to get married if a divorce from a previous marriage is still pending), and you must marry your fiancé within 90 days of the date in which your fiancé has entered into the United States.
- You must meet your fiancé in person at least once within the past two years unless meeting your fiancé in person would violate long-established customs or would create extreme hardships for you.
- K-1 visa is valid for 180 days from the date of issue.
Spouse VISA: K-3
The process tends to be slightly more complicated than K-1 because you have to file a family-based immigration petition (form I-130) for your spouse. This application must be received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration (“USCIS”) before you can apply for your spouse’s K-3 visa. (Please note that if your family-based immigration petition (I-130) is approved then you have the option to either wait for the immigrant visa or apply for a K-3 visa, which is considered a non-immigrant visa).
- K-3 visa tends to have a longer waiting period than a K-1 visa because you have to file the family-based immigration petition (I-130) before you can apply for the K-3 visa.
- With the K-3 visa, your spouse can travel freely in and out of the United States as long as the K-3 visa is valid.
- Just like the K-1, your spouse has to apply for a work permit in order to accept employment in the United States.