Fiancée Visas (K-1)

A K-1 visa — also called a fiancé visa — allows the engaged partner of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States, as long as the couple gets married no more than 90 days later. The newly married spouse can then apply for permanent residence (a “green card”) based on marriage.

The correct terminology is “fiancée” for a woman who is engaged to be married or fiancé for man. For simplicity, we use “fiancé” to mean either a male or female engaged partner.

Marriage Visas (K-3, CR-1, I-130)

As a U.S. citizen, you can bring your Fiancé(e) to the United States with the intention to marry and live here with a Fiancé(e) K1 Visa. With the K1 visa, the foreign fiance will be able to travel to the U.S. and marry their sponsor within the 90 days window. Afterward, the foreign citizen can apply for an adjustment of status to become a legal permanent resident (LPR) with USCIS. One advantage of the K1 visa is that the process is relatively fast and typically speedier than a K3 or CR-1 visa (for married individuals). The fiance visa process is about 6 months and becoming a permanent resident thereafter takes about 10.5 months.

Spouse visas, on the other hand, offer two possible options–IR-1 or CR-1 and K3 visas. You can bring your spouse to the U.S. by way of a Petition for Alien Relative, I-130 or nonimmigrant visa (K3). A “spouse” is defined as the legally wedded husband or wife, including same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and LPRs. In some cases, common-law spouses may qualify for the same benefits. The CR-1 spousal visa is valid for 6 months and permits the holder to come to the U.S. and reside permanently. With this visa, no adjustment of status is necessary.

U Visas

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. Congress created the U nonimmigrant visa with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (including the Battered Immigrant Women’s Protection Act) in October 2000. The legislation was intended to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse due to the crime and are willing to help law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity. The legislation also helps law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of crimes.