The Difference Between Fiancé Visa and a Marriage-Based Green Card

As a newly engaged couple trying to understand and figure out the best way to get your fiancé over to the United States, so that you can start your life together, can feel overwhelming and confusing. There are a few paths you can take and Odunlami Law Firm can help you figure out the right path for you both. However, first, it’s important to understand the differences and the requirements between a Fiancé or K-1 Visa and a marriage-based green card.


What is a Fiancé Visa or K-1 Visa?

A Fiancé Visa or K-1 Visa is a visa that allows the engaged partner to enter the United States. Upon entering the United States the engaged couple must get married within 90 days. After the couple is married the immigrant or non-citizen partner of the couple may apply for a green card. The term fiancé is used to describe either partner.

Requirements for a Fiancé or K-1 Visa


In order to obtain a fiancé or K-1 Visa, both partners must have the intention of marrying within 90 days and meet these requirements. 

  • Must be engaged to a US citizen, and must have proof of citizenship

  • A written statement with intent to marry and must have the intention of marrying within 90 days of them entering the US

  • Have proof of your relationship before you were engaged (photos, text messages, letters, travel receipts, letters from family members)

  • Must have proof that you have met in person at least one time in the past two years.

  • Copy of passport photos

  • Must get married within the United States

  • Proof that the U.S. Citizen partner can support the immigrant partner, non-U.S. citizen for the period of time the K-1 Visa is valid. (Miniminim requirement is $17,420 after deductions and taxes)

  • Previous marriages from either partner must be legally terminated

Click on the link; for more information regarding how to apply for a Fiancé Visa and to download our free eBook to help guide you through the entire process.


What is a Marriage-Based Green Card


A marriage-based green card is a green card that is started by filing form I-130. In this case, your spouse will act as your sponsor. The non-citizen spouse will reside in their home country throughout the process and until they are approved to enter the United States. This process is also called the consular process.

Requirements for a Marriage-Based Green Card


In order to obtain a marriage-based green card, both partners will hold their wedding outside of the United States and meet the following requirements;

  • Have a legally valid marriage with proof of a marriage certificate, including both names, place, and date of marriage

  • Proof that your marriage is a bona fide marriage (photo together, joint bank statements,

  • You must prove that any previous marriages for both spouses have been terminated (typically with a divorce or death certificate).

  • Proof that the U.S. Citizen partner earns a minimum of $17,420 (after deductions and taxes) per year.

The differences between Fiancé Visa and a Marriage-Based Green Card


You might be eligible for both a Finacé Visa and a Marriage-Based Green Card however, one might just benefit you a little better. Here is the breakdown;

Fiancé Visa

Cost: $2025 (plus additional expenses)\
Timeline: 13 months

If you answer yes to the following questions then a Fiancé Visa might be the right path for you;

  • You want to be together in the United States as soon as possible. As soon as seven months for the non-citizen fiancé instead of 10-13 months via a marriage-based visa

  • Both would like to get married in the United States

  • You are both okay with only one of you working throughout the process. Your United States citizen fiancé must be able to support you

  • The non-citizen fiancé is okay with waiting a longer period of time for a green card

  • Are financial okay with paying higher fees

Marriage-Based Green Card


Cost: $1200 (plus additional expenses)
Timeline: 10 to 13 months

If you answer yes to the following questions below then a Marriage-Base Green Card could be the right path for you;

  • You are okay waiting longer to live together, your non-citizen spouse has to live outside of the United States until approved

  • Your non-citizen spouse would like to continue to work and make an income

  • Both of you would like to have your wedding outside of the United States

  • Your spouse would like a green card immediately after entering the United States

  • The fees are more affordable

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How to Apply for a Fiancé Visa (K-1 Visa)

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Next Steps: Fiancé Visa or Marriage-Based Green Card?



To make sure you meet all the requirements for either path the best thing to do is to contact an immigration lawyer that can help to confirm your decision.

Are you looking for immigration services or more information regarding your fiancé visa or marriage-based green card?

We can help.

Contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or email us

If you need an employment visa, wish to immigrate, or want to help bring a family member to the United States, the Odunlami Law Firm can help. If you are facing deportation or removal for any reason, you need our help. You may contact the law office for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Areas of Immigration Law:

  • Naturalization (Citizenship) Application

  • Immigrant Relative Petitions

  • Fiancé Visa Applications

  • Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

  • Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense

  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application

  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

  • Green Card Renewals

  • Temporary Work Visas

  • Temporary Protected Status

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  • Waivers


More To Explore

Schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney and get your case started today.
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