K1 vs K3: Marriage-based green card options for those who currently live abroad

Posted on April 6, 2015 by Aman Shah

For lawful entrants into the United States, such as student or work visa holders, acquiring green card status upon marriage to a U.S. Citizen involves the concurrent filing of forms I-130 and I-485. The I-130 is filed by the petitioning U.S. Citizen spouse, while the I-485 is completed by the intended beneficiary, the spouse who desires green card status. These forms are filed together, concurrently, to expedite the approval process. But what happens if you marry (or intend to marry) a US Citizen, and currently live in another country? The concurrent filing process described above won't work because USCIS reserves its benefits only for applicants currently living in the United States. In this case, two options exist: 1.) K1 Visa and 2.) K3 Visa. Each functions as a short-term visa enabling the nonresident to come to the U.S. and shortly thereafter change status to green card.

In a nutshell, the difference between K1 and K3 comes down to this: K3 applies to folks who are already married, while K1 is a fiancée visa, allowing a nonresident individual engaged to a US Citizen the opportunity to come to the US and complete the marriage process. The governmental premise behind the K visas is to promote family unity by shortening the period of time during which families must stay apart during the application process

For further information on marriage-based immigration, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Aman N. Shah at 714-312-3974 for a no-cost confidential evaluation of your potential case.