The USA has (2) types of spousal visas:
- Immigrant visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen (IR1 or CR1) – An immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 is required. Learn more.
- Nonimmigrant visa for spouse (K-3) – It is important to note that application for the nonimmigrant visa for spouse (K-3) who married a U.S. citizen must be filed and the visa must be issued in the country where the marriage took place. After the visa process has been completed, and the visa is issued, the spouse can travel to the United States to wait for the processing of the immigrant visa case. Two petitions are required: Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, and Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F. Learn more.
K-3, nonimmigrant spousal visa and CR-1, immigrant spousal visa. K-1 is just for fiances. According to travel.state.gov: Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate their immigrant visa applications upon receipt of an approved I-130 or I-140 petition from USCIS.
Which one you choose really depends on your situation. K-3 allows the foreign spouse of a US citizen to fly to the USA immediately after being issued a temporary K-3 visa. Once the K-3 spouse is in the US, he/she can apply for an adjustment of status to an immigrant and seek permanent residency. CR-1 is a bit different. It will take longer for the spouse to get to the US, however once she is there she is an immigrant and does not need a to adjust status. CR-1 is like a faster track to permanent residency.
CR-1 spousal visa takes 10-16 months. An applicant can receive both CR 1 visa card and permanent residency card during the completion of the application process in her/his home country. If USCIS is busy or delays the process, it can also prolong the time of when the spousal can receive a visa.