K-1 Visa vs. K-3 Visa: What is the difference?

Every U.S. Citizen and Immigration Visa Holder would want their loved ones close to them. To help you achieve this, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues different types of Visas, which allow your loved ones to live with you legally in the U.S.

In this blog, we will walk you through two types of Visas issued by USCIS to the fiancé(e) & spouse of a U.S. citizen. We will give you a clear comprehension of K-1 & K-3 visas to help you clarify the difference between both.

Let us first understand the meaning of both visas.

What is K-1 Visa? What is its eligibility?

K-1 Visa, aka Fiancé Visa, is a non-immigrant visa for U.S. citizens, allowing a foreign fiancé to travel to the U.S. with the intention of marrying the sponsoring U.S. citizen within 90 days of their arrival in the U.S.

The marriage must be legitimate and bona fide, which means the marriage must be in good faith and not fraudulent or for immigration purposes. Once the couple is married, the foreign fiancé can apply for a Marriage-Based Green Card.

K1 Fiance Visa Lawyer Houston - Salinas Law Firms

Eligibility criteria for K-1 Fiancé Visa

  • The sponsoring individual must be a U.S. citizen. A Green Card Holder (Lawful Permanent Resident) cannot sponsor their fiancé for a K-1.
  • The couple must get married within 90 days of the Foreign Fiancé's arrival in the U.S. via a Bona Fide Marriage.
  • Both partners must be unmarried. Any past marriages must be legally terminated via divorce or annulment.

Read more about Eligibility Criteria, Documents required, and essential information in our other blog, "A Complete Guide For Getting A K-1 Fiancé Visa."

What is a K3 Visa? What are its eligibility criteria?

The K3 Visa permits U.S. Citizen Spouse to enter the U.S. temporarily and is valid for two years. The Spouse can apply for a Marriage-Based Green Card. K3 Visa is valid for two years.

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Eligibility criteria for K-3 Visa

  • The sponsoring individual must be a legal U.S. citizen and not a permanent resident of the U.S. (Green Card Holders don't qualify)
  • The sponsoring U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for their foreign Spouse.
  • The sponsoring U.S. citizen spouse must meet specific income requirements and show their recent tax return of adjusted gross income, which should be at least 100% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines. If you cannot meet fulfill the income requirements, you must file an "Affidavit of Support."
  • Biological or adopted children traveling with the foreign Spouse to the U.S. must be unmarried and below 21.

However, if the children are above 21 or married, contact Salinas Law Firm, and our Immigration Lawyer will guide you through the process.

Documents required for K3 Visa

The following are the documents list that you need to keep ready for your K3 Visa:

  • A Valid Passport & Passport Size Photo of the Foreign Spouse & Sponsoring U.S. Citizen
  • A Bona Fide Marriage Certificate in the English language
  • Birth Certificate of Foreign Spouse
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Proof of termination of any previous marriage (divorce or annulment papers)
  • Receipt of Form I-130
  • Financial Proof that you can support yourself and your foreign spouse once they move to the U.S.
  • I-94 Arrival/Departure record, if the Foreign Spouse has ever received one from the U.S. Customs & Border Protection

K1 Visa Interview Process

K1 Visa Interview is usually conducted within 4-12 weeks after receiving notice from National Visa Center. However, the interview time varies from country to country. Only the foreign fiancé is required to attend the K-1 Visa interview at the U.S. Local Embassy or Consulate Office of their home country they are residing in.

The foreign fiancé must pay a $265 fee to the Embassy at or before the Visa Interview for the K-1 Fiancé Visa. Ensure to follow all the instructions provided by the U.S. Embassy in the notice you received.

The Consular Office conducts your Visa Interview and usually decides on the same day of the interview unless additional documents or evidence are required to be submitted post-interview.

The fees are $535 to USCIS for Visa filing and $265 to the Embassy for the K-1 Visa.

K3 Visa Interview Process

K3 Visa Interview is conducted after approval of Form I-129 by USCIS. Only the foreign spouse needs to attend the Visa Interview at the U.S. Local Embassy or Consulate Office.

The officer conducting your interview will review your visa application & ask you a series of questions related to the K3 Visa Application, Relation with the sponsoring U.S. citizen, and marriage to assess whether it is legitimate or not.

The officer usually decides on the same day of the interview regarding the approval of the visa application. In case additional documents or evidence are required after the interview, you must submit them.

The fees are $535 to USCIS for Visa filing and $325 for the visa application fee.

Note: The Medical Examination in K1 & K3 Visa will vary based on your country and the doctor's fee for conducting your medical exam.

What are the key differences between a K-1 & K-3 Visa?

  • K1 Visa doesn't require an immigrant petition (Form I-130), which is required for K3 Visa.
  • K1 Visa is only valid for one legal entry into the U.S., whereas K3 Visa Holder can travel outside the U.S. for work purposes with proper documentation.
  • K1 Visa Holders need to change their status to obtain a Marriage-Based Green Card, whereas K3 Visa Holders can choose either consular processing or adjustment of status.
  • K1 Visa Holders' Children can modify their status without filling out Form I-130, whereas K3 Visa Holders’ Children need to file a separate Form I-130.


After reading the blog, you will have a firm comprehension of the difference between K1 & K3 Visa. K1 Visa is less complicated and challenging to obtain compared to K3 Visa. K1 Visa takes less processing time compared to K3.

However, you can speed up the process of obtaining K1 & K3 despite their complexity and length of processing time by contacting the most experience in the business. Contact Salinas Law Firm and get your visa application processing time reduced.

We have one of the most experienced Immigration Lawyers in Houston, who are highly qualified and have helped countless of individuals obtain K1 & K3 visas.

As one of the top Immigration Law Firms in Houston, Texas, we are familiar with the local procedures, which we fully utilize in helping our clients obtain visas a bit faster.

Contact us at 713.518.1711 to book a consultation with our K-1 Visa Immigration Lawyers & K-3 Visa Immigration Attorneys. Fulfill your dream of obtaining a U.S. Visa with Salinas Law Firm.

Read our other blog on “HOW TO CHANGE YOUR STATUS FROM A K-1 VISA TO A MARRIAGE GREEN CARD” for your reference.