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A Guide to K-1 Fiancé Visa and Spousal Visa

Immigration hurdles can sometimes stand in the way of happily ever after. We will explore the two primary visa options that can help bridge the gap: the K-1 Fiancé Visa and the Spousal Visa. Understanding their differences and requirements can ensure a smoother path towards your future together.

What is a Visa? 

A visa is a document that is required for a foreign national to approach a country and ask to be allowed in. The US has several visa types, each one for a specific purpose. 

K-1 Fiancé Visa: A Stepping Stone to Marriage

The K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé visa, allows you to enter the United States for the sole purpose of marrying your American partner. Once married, you can then apply for a Green Card, granting you permanent residency. Here's a closer look at the K-1 visa:


  • You must be engaged to a US citizen with the intention of getting married within 90 days of your arrival in the US.

  • Both of you must be free to marry (not currently married to someone else and of legal marriage age).

  • You must have met your fiancé in person at least once within the past two years, with exceptions for cases of extreme hardship.

Processing Time: 

The median processing time for a K-1 visa can vary depending on your specific circumstances and the workload at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). In some cases, it may take up to 18 months.

Important Considerations for K-1 Visa Applicants:

  • Maintaining Status: You can work legally in the US during the 90 day period you are on valid K-1 status; however, you must apply for a work permit before doing so.

  • Marriage Timeline: Remember, you must get married within 90 days of entering the US on a K-1 visa.

  • Green Card Application: After marriage, you'll need to apply for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residency (green card).

Spousal Visa: The Direct Path to Permanent Residency

Spousal immigrant visas are for spouses of US citizens or US permanent residents. A person who is married to a US citizen and has been married for less than 2 years by the time their visa is issued is given a CR1 visa. If they are married to a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder), they are issued a similar visa but it has a different code and they must wait for their Priority Date to become current before the visa can be issued. They use this visa to enter the US. Once they enter, they are permanent residents and they can start working immediately while they wait for their green card to be mailed to them. There is no need to apply for a work permit or travel document.

The spousal visa offers a more streamlined path to obtaining permanent residency. Here's what you need to know:


  • You must be legally married to a US citizen.

  • You must be admissible (i.e. meet all other USCIS eligibility requirements).

Processing Time: 

Processing times for CR-1 visas can vary significantly. In 2024, the estimated processing time is around 1 to 1.5 years if you're married to a US citizen. The process is longer for spouses of permanent residents due to the limited availability of immigrant visas. 

Choosing the Right Visa: It Depends on Your Love Story

The decision between a K-1 visa and a CR-1 visa comes down to your specific circumstances:

  • If you're not yet married but have a strong desire to get married in the US within 90 days, then the K-1 visa might be the faster option.

  • However, if you're already married, then the spousal immigrant visa is a suitable option.

We can help you choose a suitable option and guide you through the process. Call us at (512) 894-9984 and schedule a consultation with our attorney.


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