During the last few months, immigration in the U.S has experienced some setbacks and delays in terms of visa processing and restrictions. Nevertheless, if you are engaged with an American citizen or you recently got married to an American citizen, you should start considering applying for either a K-1 (Fiance Visa) or a K-3 (Marriage Visa) shortly.
What is a K-1 Visa?
The K1 visa or better known as the fiancé visa, allows the foreign fiancé of a U.S. Citizen to enter the United States to get married within 90 days of admission to the country. In general terms, Fiancé Visas are preferred over similar visa types like the Marriage Visa, as it is the easiest, quickest, and least expensive route for a couple to be reunited inside the United States of America.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for a fiancé visa, the following requirements must be fulfilled:
- In all cases, the petitioner and beneficiary must be free of any legal union with anyone else (single, divorced, or widowed). Legal separation is not accepted.
- The couple must have met in person within the past 24 months.
- The U.S. citizen must file an I-129F petition on behalf of the applicant with the nearest USCIS Center in the U.S.
How long does it take for someone to receive approval for a K-1 Visa?
K1 Fiancé Visas generally take between 5-7 months from the time the I-129F Petition is filed at a USCIS Service Center to the day the K1 Fiancé Visa is issued. First, the Petition is filed with the USCIS. Once approved, the Petition is sent to the overseas embassy for further processing, the fiancée interview, and the eventual issuing of the K1 Fiancé Visa.
What is a K-3 Spousal Visa?
The K-3 visa type or also known as Spousal Visa allows someone who is married to a U.S Citizen to enter the U.S to reunite with his or her spouse and subsequently adjust their status to a permanent resident. It was designed to shorten the physical separation between the foreign national and his or her U.S. citizen spouse. Moreover, a K-3 visa is was designed to speed up the waiting times for married couples who have a pending Marriage Visa Petition with the USCIS. The K3 Spousal Visa allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. Citizen to enter the United States-only after an overseas marriage, the I-130 Petition filing (Marriage Visa Petition), K3 Spousal Visa Petition approval and K3 Spousal Visa issuance. A K3 Spousal Visa is only available to a spouse of a U.S. Citizen and not a spouse of a U.S. Resident.
Who is eligible for a K-3 visa?
To be eligible for a “K3” non-immigrant visa an applicant must:
- Be the spouse of a United States citizen;
- Have a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) pending approval with USCIS; and
- Have a Form I-129F completed and approved by the USCIS on his/her behalf.
The U.S. citizen sponsor must first file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the Department of Homeland Security and the USCIS office in the United States. The USCIS will send a Notice of Action (Form I-797) receipt notice to inform you that it has received the petition.
The U.S. citizen sponsor must then file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), for his/her foreign-citizen spouse and stepchildren.
After USCIS approves the petitions, they will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.
How long does it take for someone to receive approval for a K-3 Visa?
Marriage Visas generally take between 8-12 months from the time the I-130 Petition is filed at a USCIS Service Center to the day a Marriage Visa is issued. First, the Petition is filed with the USCIS. Once approved, the petitioner is contacted by the National Visa Center for further processing requirements, and then once approved by the NVC, the Petition is sent to the overseas embassy for final processing, the spouse interview, and the eventual issuing of a visa. Moreover, the marriage visa is typically more complex, slower and, a more expensive route compared to the K1 Fiancé Visa.
Fiancé Visa vs Marriage Visa
If you and your fiancé are not yet married and you are still uncertain about what type of visa is best for you, you may want to consider the following:
- Processing Timelines: You can begin the petition for a Fiancée Visa immediately, assuming that the couple has met within the past two years and meet other requirements. With the help of legal counsel, the process normally takes about 6-8 months. On the other hand, for the marriage visa, you can begin the petition as soon as you become married. With the help of Legal Counsel, the process normally takes from 10 to some cases 18 months.
We understand that the constant changes in immigration that you hear regarding any kind of immigration visas can be hard to handle. For this reason, our attorneys at Sethi and Mazaheri are prepared to help you navigate this situation. Our firm is up to date on the new regulations and we had handle successfully a great number of finance and marriage visa applications. We are here to help you with your immigration journey.
If you or someone you know is exploring different ways to obtain permanent residency through a fiance or spouse, we highly recommend contacting our office directly at (646) 405-9846.