US Fiancée Visa FAQ Part III
US Fiancée / Fiancé Visa and US Marriage Visa Comparison
Visa issues are often an important factor when a US citizens decides whether to marry his/her foreign fiancée/ fiancé at home or abroad. The following FAQ touches on some of the most important inquiries our US visa lawyers receive, including the difference in processing times for the US K1 Fiancé(e) and US K3 Marriage visas from Thailand.
Should I petition for a US Fiancée visa or US Marriage visa for my Thai fiancée?
Choosing to apply for a US K1 Fiancée visa or a US K3 marriage visa is decision best arrived upon by considering you and your fiancées' objectives. A Fiancée visa would give you and your fiancée the opportunity to determine whether you, as a couple, can adjust and make a final decision to live together as husband and wife in the US. If a marriage does not occur for any reason your fiancée would have to return to her home country, in this case Thailand, within 90 days of her arrival and you would both be free to pursue other relationships.
Persons seeking a prenuptial agreement to protect assets need to consider strategic reasons for choosing one jurisdiction for marriage over another. These considerations may include location of assets, choice of forum and choice of law in a potential divorce case and the relative strength of a prenuptial agreement in Thailand over that of your home country.
If your overriding concern is to be united in the US with your fiancée as soon as possible, our US visa attorneys often suggest that the US Fiancée visa is probably the best option. Processing time is generally one to two months longer for US Marriage visas because of the additional step of filing an immigration petition as well as that time involved in actually getting married.
How long does it take for a US K3 Marriage visa for a Thai national to be approved versus a US K1 Fiancé(e) visa?
Processing times for the K1 Fiancée and K3 Marriage visa from Thailand vary based on the backlog at the both the USCIS and the US Embassy in Bangkok. Petitions must be submitted to the Regional Service Center of the USCIS which has jurisdiction over the residence of the US citizen. Processing times vary substantially between centers and also fluctuate depending on the number of petitions received in any given time period.
The standard K1 Fiancée visa application process takes between 5 -7 months with the processing time at the USCIS generally taking between 2-4 months and processing at the US Embassy in Bangkok taking 1-3 months. US citizens that are able to establish residence in Thailand may be eligible to file their visa petition at the USCIS in Bangkok, which generally has a substantially shorter processing time.
The standard K3 Marriage visa process, on the other hand, generally takes 6-8 months for the K3 visa to be issued from the date on which the initial petition is filed.
What is adjustment of status and how does the process differ for US K1 Fiancé(e) and US K3 Marriage visa holders?
K visas are a special class of visas created to allow the fiancée / fiancé or spouse of a US citizen to unite with his/her partner in the US without having to wait for an immigration petition to be processed. As a result, when K visa holders enter the US, they are accorded non-immigrant status and must file for permanent residence status (adjust status) after entering the US.
The Fiancée or Marriage visa holder’s American immigration claim is made on the basis of his/her marriage to a US citizen. For K3 Marriage visa applicants, this marriage occurs before they enter the US and the immigration petition is filed prior to or at the same time as the K3 visa petition. K1 Fiancée visa applicants, on the other hand, have to file their immigration petition in the US when filing for conditional permanent resident status. As a result, K3 visa holders are generally able to be accorded permanent resident status faster than K1 visa holders.
If your fiancée / fiancé will need to return to Thailand or their home country or travel outside of the US shortly after coming to the US then a K3 Marriage visa may be a better option. US K3 Marriage visas are multiple entry visas whereas US K1 Fiancée visas are single entry visas. K3 visa holders may apply to adjust status abroad whereas K1 visas holders must apply in the US and may not leave the US during the adjustment of status process without seeking advance permission.
US Fiancée Visa FAQ Part IV
US Fiancée Visa FAQ Part II
K3 Marriage Visa FAQ, Adjustment of Status