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Fiancé Visa Versus Marriage Visa – Which Is the Better Option?

This very common Immigration question doesn’t have a simple answer. For many, the biggest issue is speed. They haven’t married yet, and want to know which will result in their fiancé coming to the United States the fastest. The bottom line is that either approach will result in your fiancé immigrating to the United States so long as your marriage is bona fide (not entered into solely for the immigration purposes). So which is faster? Anecdotally, many immigrants will tell you that the fiancé visa is the fastest. However, what has been the fastest in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the fastest today. U.S. Immigration processing times and backlogs are unpredictable.

Currently, it does seem that your fiancé will be able to come to the U.S. faster on a fiancé (K-1 Visa). However, the time that it would take to bring your fiancé to the U.S. on a K-3 Marriage Visa isn’t much slower, and it appears the gap is closing. One should be cautious about assuming that the K-1 fiancé Visa will be faster than the K-3 Marriage Visa. The overall time it takes for either Visa and the difference in time between the two will depend on your fiancé’s home country.

Given that the fiancé visa’s advantage in speed is so slight, one should consider other factors before jumping into the decision. Most importantly, the K-1 fiancé visa is very strict. You must marry your fiancé within 90 days of his or her arrival in the United States. While this provides additional time to get to know your fiancé, there are no extensions. In addition, travel outside the United States is easier for K-3 Visa holders (no advance parole required). Finally, because K3 Marriage visa applicants are married before they enter the United States and they file their immigration petition prior to or at the same time as the K3 visa petition, they typically obtain permanent residence status (green card status) a few months faster than K-1 fiancé applicants.

In addition to K-1 and K-3 options, if you marry your fiancé abroad, he or she can obtain permanent residence (green card status) prior to coming to the United States via an immigrant visa processed by the consular office in their home country. The process is slower – it will generally take 12 to 18 months before your spouse can come to the United States. However, they will arrive with permanent resident status (a green card), can freely travel and can begin to work immediately. Moreover, you avoid the additional fee associated with the Adjustment of Status application (currently $985), and do not have to worry about the removal of “conditional status” after two years.

Whatever option you choose, be sure that you fill out all forms accurately and that you fully comply with all instructions, including requests for supporting documentation. Most delays are caused by incomplete applications and petitions. San Diego Immigration Attorney Donald R. Oder will assist you in preparing all the forms and documentation properly so that you maximize your chances of approval, minimize delay and ensure that any unique issues applicable to you are addressed.