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K1 Visa and K3 Visa Comparison Thailand

American citizens that intend to live in the US with their Thai wife/husband /fiancé/fiancée must debate which visa is best:  K1 versus K3 visa.  Depending on the circumstances of your individual situation, it can be difficult to decide whether the K1 or K3 visa is most appropriate. 

K-1 Fiancée Visa Thailand

The Thai fiancé(e) of an American citizen can legally be issued a visa if there is the sole intention of entering the US for the purposes of marriage to the petitioning US citizen.  The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 101(a) (15)(K), 8 USC 1101(a)(15)(K) clearly delineates the particularities of the K1 Fiancée Visa:  the K1 visa is a 90 day single entry visa; the marriage must occur within the 90 day period, and in addition the Thai K1 visa holder must apply to adjust their status to legal residency. 

K-3 Marriage Visa Thailand

The Thai wife or husband of an American citizen can enter the United States for legal residency under the K3 visa, a two year multiple entry visa.  This visa category was created in 2000 under the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (the "LIFE Act").  Under the INA §101(a)(15)(K)(ii), the Thai spouse must already be married to a U.S. citizen who has filed a family-based petition (Form I-130) on his or her behalf.  

Key Features of the K1 Fiancée Visa:

  • Intended for the Thai fiancé(e) of a petitioning American citizen to enter the US for the purposes of marriage to the petitioner
  • Single-entry 90 day visa
  • Valid for 6 months
  • Cannot extend one’s status
  • Must marry within the 90 day period
  • Must adjust legal status after marriage
  • Children are permitted to enter on subsidiary visas
  • Visa holder is permitted to work (upon approval of USCIS)

Key Features of the K3 Marriage Visa:

  • Intended for the Thai  wife/husband of a petitioning American citizen to enter the US for the purpose of residency
  • Multiple-entry visa
  • Valid for two years
  • Legal status can be extended
  • Obtains permanent residency status easily
  • Children are permitted to enter on subsidiary visas
  • Visa holder is permitted to work (upon approval of USCIS)

K1 Versus K3 Visa Thailand

K1 Fiancé(e) Visa




  • Processing time is relatively shorter than that of a K3 Fiancée visa.
  • As a 90 day single entry visa, it is difficult to travel outside the country.
  • Allows a grace period whereby the couple can familiarize themselves and adjust to life together in the United States.
  • Immigration officials must be convinced that there is a genuine commitment and intention to marry.
  • The Thai fiancée gets time to adapt to the culture and language in the US before making the decision to marry.
  • There is a chance that the fiancée’s Thailand family may not be able to attend the wedding in the US.
  • The process allows the petitioner and applicant to deal mostly with the US immigration system and its officials in the US.
  • Marriage in the United States can be considerably more expensive than marriage conducted and registered in Thailand.


  • Both the marriage and an application to adjust status must be completed within the 90 day period. 


  • After marriage, the K1 visa holder will have to apply to adjust status, which could be an extended process whereby the visa holder cannot leave the country, narrowing honeymoon opportunities.

K3 Marriage Visa

  • As a 2 year multiple entry visa, it allows the visa holder to travel outside the US and conveniently adjust status.
  • Can be more expensive than a K1 visa.
  • The marriage can take place in Thailand with the fiancée’s family.
  • Processing times are generally longer than a k1 visa.
  • A local Thai marriage is relatively inexpensive and arranged in one day.
  • More documentation is required, including an Affidavit of Support, proving the petitioner’s financial ability to support the K3 visa applicant.
  • Thai law looks more favorably on prenuptial agreements than American law. 
  • A lawyer that is experienced with drafting international prenuptial agreements for both jurisdictions will have to be utilized. 
  • With a marriage registered in Thailand, divorce procedures are also generally more favorable. 
  • There will be little opportunity to adjust to life in the US together prior to the marriage.
  • Adjustment of status process generally requires less time and paper work.


  • If there are issues with possible visa denials and excludability, the K3 visa is generally a ‘stronger’ or more supportive visa.


(Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. No warranty is expressed or implied.
Before taking any legal action, persons are advised to seek the advice of a lawyer qualified in the area of law concerned.)

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