The Key Differences Between K-1 and K-3 Visas

The Key Differences Between K-1 and K-3 Visas

Love knows no boundaries, which is why the US offers visas for foreigners marrying US citizens. The most common visas available for this purpose are the K-1 and K-3 visas. These visas have some similarities but also significant differences. Knowing which one is right for your situation is crucial to a successful application. We explain some of the key differences between K-1 and K-3 visas below so you can make an informed decision.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria are one of the most noticeable differences when you compare a K-1 and a K-3 visa. K-1 visas are solely for fiancés of US citizens, meaning you and your partner must meet all the requirements for an engagement.

K-3 visas cater to non-US citizens who have already married a US citizen. You will need to show proof of the marriage for a K-3 visa application.

Processing Time

The processing time also varies between the K-1 and K-3 visas. Generally, the K-1 visa has a shorter processing time than the K-3 visa. The average processing time for a K-1 visa is around six to nine months, while the K-3 visa processing time is between nine and 12 months.

However, please note that this is just an estimate; the actual processing time may vary depending on your situation. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted immigration processing times, resulting in delays. An immigration attorney can assist with processing time.

Adjustment of Status

The adjustment of status process is another difference between these two visas. For a K-1 visa, the foreign fiancé will need to file for an adjustment of status once they enter the US. This allows them to become a permanent resident instead of a legal immigrant. This process is often time-consuming and costly, but it’s worth it.

In contrast, the foreign partner doesn’t need to adjust the status of a K-3 visa because it is already a nonimmigrant visa. Still, they can apply for permanent residency once they enter the US.

Travel Arrangements

If your priority is a smooth travel process, then you may want to consider marrying and applying for a K-3 visa. K-3 visa holders can enter and exit the US more conveniently than K-1 visa holders. K-3 visa holders can also travel internationally while their green card applications are pending. In contrast, K-1 visa applicants will have to wait until they have received their green card before leaving the US. After leaving, reentering the US with a K-1 visa is often difficult.

Understanding the key differences between K-1 and K-3 visas should guide you in making the best decision for your situation. Applying for any visa carries a degree of stress and uncertainty, which is often overwhelming. Fortunately, experienced legal counsel, such as a K-1 visa immigration lawyer, can help decrease that overwhelming stress and uncertainty. Gahagan Law is here to help make the visa application process as smooth as possible so that you can focus on your marriage. Contact us today for more information.