If you recently got engaged, congratulations! The next step is to figure out the best immigration path for you and your fiancé(e). Will the K-1 fiancé visa or the CR-1 spousal visa help you reunite sooner? 

Not sure which path is right for you? RapidVisa can help! Get started today.

How is the K-1 fiancé visa different to a marriage green card? 

The K-1 visa allows the foreign engaged partner to come to the United States to marry their U.S. citizen fiancé. Once married, the couple can apply for a marriage green card.

Another option is for the couple to get married outside the United States, and then the U.S. citizen spouse would sponsor the foreign spouse for a marriage green card.

RapidVisa helps you and your partner reunite sooner. We guide you on your immigration journey, right until the finish line. Get started on your application today!

K-1 fiancé visa vs. CR1 spousal visa: Which is faster?

When choosing between the K1 and CR1, there are two time-related factors to consider:

  1. What is the fastest way to bring your spouse to the U.S.?
  2. How soon after arriving in the United States can they obtain permanent residency (also known as a green card)?

If your main concern is getting your fiancé to the United States as quickly as possible, the K-1 visa is historically proven to be several weeks faster than the CR1 visa from the time of application to the time the visa is issued. However, government processing times have recently started to change and the K-1 visa and CR1 visa now have similar wait times.

How fast can I get a CR1 visa?

How long does a CR1 approval take? The wait time for CR1 approval can depend on whether your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. It can also depend on where you filed your CR1 visa. As of August 2023, USCIS estimated the wait time for a Form I-130 CR-1 Spousal Visa application to range from 14.5 to 60 months. Meanwhile, the estimated waiting time for a Form I-129F K-1 Fiancé Visa can be anywhere between 10.5 to 16.5 months.

What is the CR1 processing time for 2023?

The processing time for the CR1 visa for 2023 is 14–15 months if you’re married to a U.S. citizen and 28–40 months if you’re married to a green card holder. 

USCIS’ Estimated Processing Times for I-130 Petition for Alien Relative as of August 2023

U.S. Citizen Filing for a Spouse 

Permanent Resident filing for a Spouse

Field Office Processing Time Field Office Processing Time
California Service Center 14.5 months California Service Center 28.5 months
National Benefits Center 50 months National Benefits Center 60 months
Nebraska Service Center 15.5 months Nebraska Service Center 31.5 months
Potomac Service Center 15.5 months Potomac Service Center 30 months
Texas Service Center 13.5 months Texas Service Center 14.5 months
Vermont Service Center 14.5 months Vermont Service Center 38 months
All Field Offices 28 months All Field Offices 37 months

USCIS’ Estimated Processing Times for I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé/e as of August 2023

K1 Fiancé
Field Office Processing Time
California Service Center 16.5 months
Nebraska Service Center 4.5 months
Potomac Service Center 19 months
Texas Service Center 16.5 months
Vermont Service Center 10.5 months

What is the difference between a K1 fiancé and a CR1 spouse?

It's important to note that the K-1 visa has an extra step: After a fiancé enters the United States on a K-1 visa, they need to marry their U.S. citizen partner and apply to adjust their status, a process that can take several more months before receiving the green card. Without the green card, the foreign spouse won't be able to legally work in the United States or travel outside the country without applying for another visa.

If the couple gets married outside the United States, and the foreign spouse then enters the United States on a CR1 spousal visa,  they will obtain their green card immediately after entering the U.S. For this reason, if your primary concern is for your fiancé to get a green card as quickly as possible, then the CR1 spousal visa is the best option.

How much does each visa type cost?

The K-1 visa process is more expensive in the end because it includes the additional step of applying for a green card once you're married in the U.S. The U.S. government also recently proposed increases to immigration fees that could make the marriage green card process significantly more expensive in the coming months. Here are the total costs you can expect for the K-1 visa and the CR1 visa, including future costs if the fee increases go into effect:

Which visa type is best for me?

So, to recap, as of 2023, the current processing time for the K-1 visa is shorter than the CR1 visa, however the CR1 visa will help your foreign spouse obtain their green card faster. The K-1 visa therefore is generally a good option for couples who want to get married in the U.S., rather than getting married abroad. Below is a breakdown of the key differences between the two visa types to help you determine which option may be best for you and your partner:


If this sounds complicated, don’t worry! RapidVisa can guide you through every milestone of your immigration journey. Ready to start? 

Disclaimer: The contents of this post were accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing. Immigration is constantly changing, and old information often becomes outdated, including procedures, timelines, prices, and more. Take note of the publish date. For archival purposes, these posts will remain published, even if new information renders them obsolete. Do not make important life decisions based on this content. No part of this post should be considered legal advice, as RapidVisa is not a law firm. This content is provided free of charge for informational purposes only. If anything herein conflicts with an official government website, the official government website shall prevail.

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