Immigration Options When Marrying a U.S. Citizen

Posted over 5 years ago. 21 helpful votes



What is the Best Visa Option?

Many people ask us which is the fastest way to bring their loved one to the United States. The options are to marry in the U.S. (Fianc (K-1) or Tourist (B-2) visa) or marry in your loved ones home country (Spouse visa K-3). Every case is unique. We encourage you to NOT focus on the immigration aspects of this important event, but rather to use the immigration laws to serve your desire to marry where you want to marry. Also, know that it is impossible to provide a blanket answer that would apply in every situation. Here is a summary of the options you have, with the advantages and disadvantages highlighted. Understand that the actual processing times of any of these visas, but particularly the K-1 and K-3 will vary greatly depending on both the location of the U.S. citizen in the United States and the country of origin of the foreign national spouse. Whichever way you chose to proceed, we look forward to assisting you with your immigration matters.


Fiance Visa (K-1) Advantages

1. You don't need to marry immediately in your Fiance(e)'s country or the U.S. 2. You bring your loved one to the U.S. as your Fiancee, and you have 90 days to get married. This allows you both to get to know each other better and make a decision about whether you want to spend the rest of your lives together. 3. You deal nearly exclusively with the U.S. immigration system and U.S. immigration officials here in the United States. 4. You avoid dealing with local foreign procedures of marriage in a foreign country in a foreign language. 5. Your fiance has a chance to see the country and get familiar with U.S. customs and language before the marriage.


Fiance Visa (K-1) Disadvantages

1. Your Fianc(e) needs to make a strong effort to convince the Immigration Officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in her home country, that you are both in love and are planning to get married upon her arrival in the U.S. 2. Close family and friends will NOT see your Fianc (e) get married in the U.S. unless they could manage to obtain another type of visa such as a tourist visa, which is hard to obtain.


K-3 (Spousal Visa) Advantages

1. You are both together immediately. Your wife's family and friends are able to attend your wedding without any delay, which is very important for many spouses. 2. Local marriage in a foreign country can sometimes be accomplished in 10 days, or less. 3. Depending on the U.S. Consulate, the process could take much less time.


K-3 (Spousal Visa Disadvantages

1. Extensive supporting documentation is usually necessary for a U.S. Citizen to get married in a foreign country. 2. It is a two-step process, instead on one. First, you are required to submit a package for the Form I-130. And, second, upon USCIS Notice of Action, you would need to send I-129F Package. It takes time and a lot of patience from both of you. 3. This process is very document-sensitive which means that if you are missing a document, you may have to fly back to the U.S. in order to obtain a necessary document before process can be completed. 4. All your documents must be translated into the native language of that country where you are planning to get married. The translation much be certified with attached apostille. 5. Your might end up with more expenses for the marriage itself and Embassy visa processing charges and fees.



U.S. immigration law places the burden of proof on the visa applicant to show that he or she is not planning to immigrate to the United States by using a tourist visa. In other words, each non-immigrant visa applicant must prove to the Consul's satisfaction that s/he will NOT travel to the U.S. in order to reside there permanently. Each applicant must demonstrate that s/he is traveling to the U.S. for ONLY a temporary stay and has strong ties to home country that will compel him/her to return home. If the officers of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry believe your prospective or actual spouse is coming as a visitor to avoid the delays associated with the K-1 or K-3 visas, these officers have extraordinary power to bar your significant other from entry to the United States for a minimum of five (5) years; and if they believe fraud or misrepresentation is involved, these officers can impose up to a lifetime bar to entry!

Additional Resources

You can read more on our webiste at

I Want to Marry a Foreign National

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K-3 spouse visa

If you are a US citizen and marry some who is not, your spouse can temporarily live in the United States with a spouse visa.

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