K1 Visa vs CR1 Visa: Which Is the Right Choice for You?

If you’re planning on bringing your foreign fiancé or spouse to the United States, you’ll likely be looking at either the K1 visa or CR1 visa. Both visas offer different options and have their own benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we’ll go over what each visa is, the differences between them, and which one might be the best choice for your particular situation.

K1 Visa Key Takeaways

  • A K1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a U.S. citizen to bring their foreign fiancé to the United States with the intention of getting married within 90 days of arrival.
  • The application process can take anywhere from six to twelve months to complete.
  • K1 visa holders are not authorized to work until they have received Adjustment of Status after they’ve married.

CR1 Visa Key Takeaways

  • A CR1 visa is an immigrant visa that allows a U.S. citizen to bring their foreign spouse to the United States as a permanent resident.
  • The application process typically takes around 12-14 months to complete
  • CR1 visa holders are authorized to work in the United States upon their arrival.

K1 Visa

The K1 visa, also known as the fiancé visa, allows a U.S. citizen to bring their foreign fiancé to the United States with the intention of getting married within 90 days of their arrival. This is a nonimmigrant visa, which means that the fiancé is not authorized to work in the United States until they have received Adjustment of Status, which can take several months after the wedding.

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K1 Visa Requirements

  • The petitioner (U.S. citizen) must be unmarried and intend to marry the beneficiary (foreign fiancé) within 90 days of their arrival.
  • Both the petitioner and the beneficiary must be legally free to marry, which means they must be single or legally divorced.
  • The petitioner must meet the minimum income requirements or have a co-sponsor to ensure that the beneficiary will not become a public charge in the United States.

K1 Visa Process

  1. Petition: The petitioner files a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) with USCIS. This includes evidence of the petitioner and beneficiary’s relationship, such as photographs, letters, and other documentation.
  2. Approval: Once the petition is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.
  3. Embassy Interview: The beneficiary then goes through a consular interview at the U.S. embassy in their home country.
  4. Medical Exam: The beneficiary must also undergo a medical exam by an approved physician.
  5. Travel to the U.S.: If the beneficiary is approved for the K1 visa, they will be able to travel to the United States and can remain for up to 90 days.

CR1 Visa

The CR1 visa, also known as the spousal visa, allows a U.S. citizen to bring their foreign spouse to the United States as a permanent resident. This is an immigrant visa, which means that the spouse is able to work in the United States as soon as they arrive.

CR1 Visa Requirements

  • The petitioner (U.S. citizen) must be legally married to the beneficiary (foreign spouse).
  • The petitioner must meet the minimum income requirements or have a co-sponsor to ensure that the beneficiary will not become a public charge in the United States.
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CR1 Visa Process

  1. Petition: The petitioner files a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with USCIS. This includes evidence of the petitioner and beneficiary’s relationship, such as marriage certificates, photographs, and other documentation.
  2. Approval: Once the petition is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.
  3. Embassy Interview: The beneficiary then goes through a consular interview at the U.S. embassy in their home country.
  4. Medical Exam: The beneficiary must also undergo a medical exam by an approved physician.
  5. Travel to the U.S.: If the beneficiary is approved for the CR1 visa, they will be able to travel to the United States and become a permanent resident upon arrival.

Which Visa Is Right for You?

The decision of whether to choose the K1 visa or CR1 visa will depend on a number of factors specific to your situation, such as your timing, budget, and whether you want to get married in the United States or abroad. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • Timing: If you need to bring your fiancé/spouse to the U.S. as quickly as possible, then the K1 visa may be the better option, as it typically takes less time to obtain. The CR1 visa can take upwards of a year to be approved.
  • Budget: The K1 visa tends to be a more expensive option, as it requires multiple steps that can add up in cost. The CR1 visa has fewer steps, but it does require a higher filing fee.
  • Marriage Location: If you want to get married in the United States, then the K1 visa is the only option. If you want to get married in another country, then the CR1 visa may be a better option, as your spouse can enter the United States as a permanent resident.
  • Work Authorization: If it’s important for your fiancé/spouse to be able to work immediately upon arriving in the United States, then the CR1 visa is the better option.
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Conclusion

Both the K1 and CR1 visa have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the decision of which one to choose will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. Make sure to do your research and consult with an immigration lawyer if you have any questions or concerns.

FAQ

Can my fiancé/spouse stay in the United States while we wait for the visa to be approved?

If your fiancé/spouse is already in the United States, they may be able to file for Adjustment of Status while they wait for the visa to be approved. However, if they are not in the United States, they will need to wait outside the country until the visa is approved.

Are there any income requirements for the CR1 visa?

Yes, the petitioner must meet the minimum income requirements or have a co-sponsor to ensure that the beneficiary will not become a public charge in the United States.

What happens after my spouse enters the United States on a CR1 visa?

After your spouse enters the United States on a CR1 visa, they will automatically become a permanent resident. They will then need to apply for a Green Card, which will allow them to live and work in the United States permanently.

About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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