K-1 Fiancé Visa vs Marriage Visa

The K-1 Fiancé Visa

A K-1 Visa allows foreign fiancées to immigrate into the US with marriage within 90 days as a precondition. Engaged international couples prefer K-1 Fiancé Visas for their ease of access.
Generally, K-1 Fiancé Visas take between 5 to 7 months after filing the I-129F Petition at a USCIS Service Center to the time of issue. First, the applicant files the I-129F Petition at the USCIS. After approval, the USCIS forwards the Petition to the overseas embassy for further assessment. Next is the fiancée interview, after which the K-1 Fiancé Visa is issued on merit.

Application for a work permit

After admission to the US, the applicant’s fiancée may immediately apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). In this instance, the fiancée’s work permit is valid for only 90 days from the date of legal immigration.

Application for a Green card

After legal admission, the engaged couple has 90 days to marry. The marriage comes with three immigration service benefits including travel permission, work permit and the green card. The travel and work permits take between 60 to 90 days to process. The USCIS issues a Conditional green card valid for two years after legitimizing and validating the marriage. Processing the green card can take between 6 to 12 months.

Minimum requirements for a K-1 Fiancé Visa

  • The estimated waiting time for this visa is 13 months.
  • The K-1 Fiancé Visa costs approximately $2025 to process.
  • When applying for the K-1 Fiancé Visa, the resident citizen must meet income obligations stipulated in the federal poverty guidelines. (Must earn at least 100% of the federal poverty guidelines)
  • When applying for a green card, the US citizen must earn 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.

If they do not meet the income requirements, they can:

Use their assets

Assets from the citizen’s household can help meet the income requirements. Yet, the assets must be worth triple the variation between actual household income and the income rule.

Have a joint sponsor

A joint sponsor is a qualified individual that pledges to support the US resident’s family. The sponsor must meet the exact requirements as the applicant, including the 125% income rule. The sponsor does not need to be a family member.

The Marriage visa

In contrast, an IR-1 or CR-1 Marriage Visa permits the foreign spouse of a US Citizen to immigrate into the US. Despite efforts to curb processing deadlocks, processing the Marriage Visa is still more complex and slow than the K-1 Fiancé Visa.
Generally, Marriage Visas take between 5 to 7 months after filing the I-130 Petition at a USCIS Service Center to the time of issue. First, the applicant files the I-130 Petition at the USCIS. After approval, the National Visa Center (NVC) contacts the petitioner for further processing. If successful, the petition is forwarded to the overseas embassy for final processing, the interview and the issue. Marriage Visas are generally more complex, expensive, and a slower route than the K-1 Fiancé Visa.

Application for a work permit

After admission into the US, the spouse may work depending on their status. Applicants can access evidence of employment authorization through filing Form I-765 at any time after admission. Otherwise, the spouse can apply for a green card and then employment authorization from the pending application regardless of their K-3 or K-4 non-immigrant validity status.

Applying for a green card

After attaining the Marriage Visa, the spouse must have a valid Form I-130 to apply for a green card. The spouse may apply for the green card at any time by filing Form I-485.

Minimum requirements for a Marriage Visa

  • The estimated waiting time for this visa is 10-13 months.
  • The K-1 Fiancé Visa costs approximately $1200 to process.
  • The US citizen spouse must earn atleast125% of the federal poverty guidelines