The K1 and K3 visas are both marriage-based immigration visas. But, there’s a key difference between the two: the K1 fiancé visa allows immigrants to live in the U.S. to marry a U.S. citizen, whereas the K3 visa is for couples who are already married.

If you’re trying to decide whether a K1 or K3 visa is the best route for you, contact Attorney Eric Price. He is an expert immigration attorney who has helped countless clients get citizenship in the United States. Contact us today to learn more.

K1 Fiancé Visa

If you meet the following requirements, the K1 visa may be the best option for you:

Who It’s For

The K1 visa allows foreign fiancés to travel to the U.S. to get married. Once married, the k1 recipient’s status will be adjusted to permanent residency, and they will receive a green card. If you want to get married ASAP and have your wedding in the U.S., the K1 visa is for you.


To be eligible for a K-1 visa, you must:

• Intend to marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days of the foreign partner’s admission into the U.S.
• Have met your partner in person at least one time within the two-year period before you file the visa petition.
• Both partners must be legally free to get married.

Application Process

To apply for a K-1 visa, you must:

• Have the U.S. citizen sponsor file Form I-129F
• Wait for a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC), then apply for the K-1 visa with a completed Form DS-160 and other required documents, including a medical examination and two passport-style photographs.
• Attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
• Receive a visa stamp on your passport.

K-3 Spousal Visa

The K-3 spousal visa allows foreign spouses of American citizens to enter the United States with temporary legal status while they wait for their green card.

Who It’s For

The K-3 visa is intended for couples who were legally married outside of the United States.


To be eligible for a K-3 spousal visa, you must:

• Be the legal spouse of a U.S. citizen.
• Currently live outside of the U.S.
• File Form I-130.
• The U.S. citizen spouse must meet certain income requirements.
• If you have children who also plan to come to the U.S., they must be unmarried and under the age of 21.

Application Process

The K-3 application process is:

1. Have the U.S. citizen spouse file Form I-129F and attach all required documents.
2. File the DS-160 application and attach all required documents.
3. Attend visa interview.

Similarities Between K1 & K3 Visas

• Both visas are used by U.S. citizens to bring loved ones to the U.S.
• Both visas belong to the non-immigrant category even though visa holders are considered immigrants.
• K1 and K3 visa recipients are allowed to adjust their status to become permanent residents while in the United States.
• K1 and K3 visa holders can bring their kids to the United States.
• Both visas are filed with Form I-129F.
• K1 and K3 visa recipients may receive conditional green cards at first and will need to apply to have the conditions removed.
• Both visa holders can work and travel with proper documents from the USCIS.

Differences Between K1 & K3 Visas

• The K1 visa is for the fiancé(é) of an American citizen (intended before marriage), but the K3 visa is for the spouse of an American citizen (intended for after marriage).
• The K1 visa does not require an immigrant petition (Form I-130), while the K3 visa does.
• Children of K1 visa holders may adjust their status without Form I-130, while the children of K3 visa holders must have a separate Form I-130 filed on their behalf.
• K1 visa holders are required to adjust their status to obtain a green card, but K3 visa holders can choose adjustment of status or consular processing once their I-130 is approved.
• The K-1 visa is a one-entry visa. The K-3 allows multiple entries into the U.S.
• The K-1 visa is valid for six months, where the K3 visa is valid for two years.

How To Choose

In general, the K-1 visa is best for engaged couples if one or more of the following is true:

• You want to start your life together in the United States ASAP — typically seven months for the K1 visa instead of 10-13 months for the K3.
• You want to have your wedding in the U.S.
• There is an impediment to getting married abroad. For example, the foreign partner lives in a country where same-sex marriage is banned.

On the other hand, the K3 visa is best for couples who:

• Have a tight budget to work with — you can expect about $1,200 in fees for the K3 visa instead of $2,025 for the K1.
• The partner seeking the green card wants to immediately become a permanent resident upon their arrival in the U.S.
• Plan to hold their wedding outside of the U.S.
• Don’t mind waiting for the foreign partner to arrive in the U.S. — generally about 10-13 months at least.

Next Steps

The K3 visa is so difficult and time-consuming that it has become obsolete in recent years. Instead, we recommend applying for the IRI or CR1 spousal visas instead. Learn more about those visas by clicking here.

No matter which visa you decide to pursue, it’s important to find an experienced immigration attorney who can be by your side throughout the entire process to ensure you meet all requirements, submit all required documentation, and that your case stays on course and has the best chance of a successful outcome.

Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!

For help selecting the best visa, no matter what your situation is, contact Attorney Eric Price today. Our firm is committed to fighting to keep families together and getting our clients to start their lives with their loved ones in the U.S. ASAP.

When you partner with Eric Price, you’re counting on the legal expertise of some of the best immigration lawyers in the country. Contact us at 1-855-662-2772 to learn more.

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