Fiance Visa or Marriage Visa: What is the Difference?

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains the differences between the K-1 fiancé visa and a marriage visa.

What is the K-1 Fiancé Visa?

The K-1 visa is available to foreign nationals who are engaged to U.S. Citizens only. K-1 visas are also reserved for foreign fiancées, who do not have any other means of coming to the United States. A K-1 visa holder must marry the U.S. Citizen fiancé/fiancée within ninety days of entry to the United States or else the alien must leave the country.

If the foreign fiancé does not intend to marry the U.S. Citizen within ninety days of arriving to the United States, then the K-1 fiancé visa is not a good option.

The K-1 fiancé visa is a good option for couples who want to spend time together in the United States before getting married.

The fiancé visa process is typically much faster than the marriage visa process.

Marriage Visa

Spouses Overseas: U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents may file Form I-130 on behalf of a foreign spouse residing abroad, so that the foreign spouse can apply for a marriage visa through the U.S. Consulate in their home country. Spouses of Legal Permanent Residents must wait for a visa to become available to them, before proceeding with the marriage visa application process.

Spouses within the U.S.: If the foreign spouse of a U.S. Citizen is residing inside of the United States on a valid visa type, then the foreign spouse can file Form I-130 and Form I-485 to adjust their status permanent residence at the same time.

The marriage visa application process is generally longer than the fiancé visa process, while adjustment of status for spouses residing within the United States is shorter than the fiancé visa process (typically 4-7 months processing time).

Main Differences:


  • For K-1 visa processing the couple does not need to be married to initiate the fiancé visa process.
  • At the conclusion of the K-1 visa process, the applicant will receive a fiancé visa to enter the U.S. for the purpose of marrying the U.S. Citizen. After marriage, the fiancé can apply for adjustment of status (green card).

Marriage Visa:

  • For a marriage visa, the couple must be married in order to initiate the marriage visa application process.
  • At the conclusion of the marriage visa process, the applicant receives an immigrant visa, and once they have entered the U.S., the green card is mailed to the applicant.

For more information about K-1 visas and marriage visas please visit our website.

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