Most people who wish to help their fiance(e) immigrate to US have a doubt on what form to file, whether K-1 visa or Form I-130. It depends on the the length of the relationship, the supporting evidence, the number of times the sponsor or the petitioner has physically met their fiance(e), are few of the considerations to file the appropriate form.
Only the citizens of the US may file a K1 visa for a fiance(e). If you are a legal permanent resident you may then have to file Form I-130 to petition your spouse. A K-1 visa is issued to the fiance(e) of a United States citizen to enter the US and marry the United Citizen within 90 days after the entry of the fiance(e) into US. A K3 visa is used by a US citizen to bring his or her spouse to the US. Form I-130 is used by a US Citizen or a legal permanent resident to petition his or her spouse for a green card.
The average waiting time for K-1 visa is approximately 7-9 months, K-3 petitions take approximately 8-10 months and Form I-130 petitions take approximately 8-12 months to be processed.
What Form Must I File?
If you are a US Citizen and you wish to bring your fiance(e) to US to get married you must file K-1 visa application. On approval of the petition by the US Citizen, the fiance(e) may travel to United States for a period of 90 days. A K-1 visa requires a fiance(e) to marry his or her US citizen sponsor within 90 days of entry into the United States. The fiance(e) may then obtain work permit to work in the United States. It is mandatory that the US Citizen and the fiance(e) must be married within the 90 days period, so that the fiance(e) will be eligible to apply to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a US Citizen and you wish to bring your spouse to US then you must file K3 visa application. You can apply for a K-3 visa for your spouse only after you have filed the I-130 petition. Your spouse can enter the US on a K3 visa while the I-130 is pending and must apply to adjust status to a permanent resident with the USCIS upon approval of the petition.
Form I-130 is used by either by a US Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident to petition their spouse to immigrate to United States. This process is a lengthy process when compared to that of K-1 and other processes.
A K-1 visa holder will not be able work or leave the country until they apply for adjustment of status. When they file for adjustment of status, applications for employment and travel will also have to be filed. After 90 days of filing the petition, the spouse may be able to travel and work.
A K-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa and the spouse may travel out of the country. The K 3 visa holder must apply for an EAD/work permit and it has to be filed along with the adjustment of status application.
Once the adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant acquires legal permanent resident status. They may then obtain employment immediately and also travel outside the country.