K-1 Visa vs. Marriage Visa

Updated on 10/15/2023


K-1 visa, also known as fiancé visa or fiancée visa, is a nonimmigrant visa issued to the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen in order that the sponsored fiancé(e) can enter the U.S. and marry the sponsoring U.S. citizen in the U.S. Besides, the sponsored fiancé(e) can apply for lawful permanent residence (green card) if he or she marries the sponsoring U.S. citizen within 90 days of his or her entry into the U.S with the K-1 visa. Unfortunately, if you are a green card holder, you are not eligible to get a K-1 visa for your fiancé(e).

Marriage Visa, also known as spousal visa, is an immigrant visa issued to the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The sponsored spouse becomes a lawful permanent resident upon his or her first entry to the U.S. with the marriage visa.

If your beloved has already been inside the U.S., the most straightforward way to have him or her live with you permanently in the U.S. is to get married and then apply for marriage green card through I-485 adjustment of status application in the U.S. Learn more about how to get married in the U.S. here or check our article How to Apply for Marriage Green Card through Adjustment of Status to guide you clearly.

What if your beloved is outside the U.S.? What is the best way to bring him or her to live with you in the U.S permanently? K-1 visa or marriage visa? Here we elaborate the difference between them so that you can figure out the best answer based on your own situation.

At DYgreencard.com, you can free check eligibility without providing any personal information to see whether you are eligible to apply for K-1 visa for your fiancé(e), or apply for marriage visa for your spouse if you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder,  or apply for marriage green card for your spouse through I-485 application.

Green Card for beloved through K-1 visa or marriage visa


K-1 Visa

Marriage Visa

Who is eligible

U.S. citizen only

U.S. citizen or green card holder

Agency to process

USCIS →NVC/U.S. Consulate →USCIS

USCIS →NVC →U.S. Consulate →USCIS

Application forms


USCIS: I-130&I-130A

NVC/U.S. Consulate: DS-160&I-134

NVC: DS-260&I-864&more

U.S. Consulate: N/A

USCIS: I-485&I-864&more


Total government fee

$2025 ($535+$265+$1225)

$1200 ($535+$445+$220)

Miscellaneous cost

About $600~$1300

About $300~$800

Special requirement

Met fiancé(e) in person within the last two years


Processing times

8-18 months on average to get K-1 visa

Additional 3-12 months on average to get green card

12 months on average to get green card

When can beloved come to the U.S.

As long as she or he gets K-1 visa, namely 8-18 months on average

12 months on average

Where to get married

United States

Normally outside the U.S.

As you may see in the chart above, through K-1 visa process, it is possible that your beloved can come to the U.S. within 8 months while through marriage visa, 12 months on average. However, it not only costs much more but also takes longer for your beloved to finally get a green card through K-1 visa process. Nevertheless, if you and your beloved are in same sex (same-sex marriage is recognized in some of states in the U.S.), or you have other impediment to marry abroad, K-1 visa process would be your best choice.

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