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Which is better? Fiancee or Spousal Visa

Choosing between Fiancee and Spousal Visa: Which is better?

 


Each week I speak to callers who are  trying to figure out what could work
the best for them, getting married overseas or in the USA, applying for spousal or fiancee visas?

This is what I tell them:

To bring your lover to the USA you have two real choices, apply for a K1 Fiancee Visa,  planning to marry once she arrives, or marry first, then apply for a CR1 Spousal Visa.

I say ‘real’ choices because attempting to bring her here on a tourist, work, or student visa is as likely as winning the lottery, its just not going to happen.

If you want to save yourself some time reading, this is all you really need to know:

Fiancee visa  is about 6 months faster, but costs about $1,000 more.

And if you prefer to listen/see a presentation, I have just updated the video
I originally recorded in 2010 and have posted the latest version at

http://www.visacoach.com/fiancee-or-spouse-visa-video.html

If a couple wants to be united as soon as possible, the fiancee visa is the preferred choice.

For couples who prefer to save some money and don’t mind the longer separation, or who prefer to celebrate their wedding in front of her family and neighbors, the spousal visa is their choice.

The K-1 Fiancee visa is like a tourist visa on steroids.

It allows the holder to enter the USA and visit here for up to 90 days. AND includes eligibility to apply for permanent residency. If the wedding occurs within the 90 days alloted, the bride is eligible to apply to remain in the USA permanently. This is called Adjustment of Status. She may “adjust” her status from a temporary K1 visitor to that of a Permanent Resident. The id card she gets stating she is legally permitted to stay is called the “Green Card”. The K1 visa is valid for 6 months. Your fiancee must begin her travel before it expires.

Two departments of the US government will handle your case, first USCIS in the USA, then the US Department of State at NVC in Vermont, and the consulates and embassies overseas.

USCIS = United States Customs and Immigration Service
NVC = National Visa Center = Operated by US Department of State

K1 Fiancee Visa Timeline:

0 week: Couple submit I-129F Petition Package to USCIS
+1-2 weeks: USCIS confirms receipt of Petition
+12-24 weeks: USCIS approves case and passes it on to NVC
+1-2 weeks: NVC confirms case has been sent  to US consulate in her country
+1-2 weeks: US consulate receives case
+4-12 weeks: Fiancee has medical + consulate interview
(brings to consulate second package of documents and evidences)
+1-2 weeks: Passport is returned to Fiancee with K1 Visa attached

AVERAGE TIME: 6-8 months, from submission to receipt of visa

Costs:
$340 Fiancee visa filing fee, attached to I-129F petition
$200 Medical exam fee, just prior to the interview at the consulate
$240 Visa application fee, prior to interview at the consulate
$100 Medical exam fee, to verify inoculations, conducted in USA
$1,070 Green Card application fee

Total: $1,950 thru to Permanent Residency

The CR-1 Spousal visa is a visa for permanent immigration to the USA. It is valid for 6 months,and allows the holder to enter the USA, in order to reside here permanently. Permanent residence is already approved, and no adjustment of status is needed. The visa holder gets her green card after a few simple formalities.

CR1 Spousal Visa Timeline:

0 week:  Couple submit I-130 Petition Package to USCIS
+1-2 weeks: USCIS confirms receipt of Petition
+12-24 weeks: USCIS approves case
+3-6 weeks: NVC requests foreign spouse choose her “Agent” in USA
+1-2 weeks: NVC requests Sponsor to pay online $80, Affidavit of Support Fee
+2-6 weeks: NVC requests Sponsor to pay online $230, visa application fee
+0 weeks: After Sponsor pays fees, he submits Package of Civil documents to NVC, including his Affidavit of Support
+3-6 weeks: NVC confirms all needed documents have been verified
+0: NVC schedules appointment at US consulate, or advises that US consulate will contact foreign spouse directly
+4-12 weeks: Foreign Spouse has medical + consulate  interview (brings to consulate final package of documents and evidences)
+1-2 weeks: Passport is returned to Fiancee with K1 Visa attached

AVERAGE TIME: 10-14 months, from submission to receipt of visa

Costs:
$420 Spousal visa filing fee, when you originally apply to USCIS
$80 Affidavit of Support Fee, paid to Department of State (National Visa Center), about 7 months
$230 Visa application fee, paid to Department of State (National Visa Center), about 8 months
$200 medical exam fee, just prior to your interview at the consulate

Total:  $930 thru to Permanent Residency

Comparison

A. The proof that you have a “bone fide” relationship is the same.
See how to prove your relationship is bone fide:
http://www.visacoach.com/genuine-relationship-video.html

B. Spousal Visa takes at about 6 months longer

C.  Paperwork: Fiancee Visa: 2 document submissions, Spousal Visa: 3 document submissions.

D. Minimum Income Eligibility is $18,913 annual income for Spouse versus $15,130 for Fiancee

K1 Fiancee Visa

Pro: You can apply as soon as you have met ‘face to face’
Con: If your income is below the minimum, and you need a joint-sponsor, check with the consulate first, as
some consulates DO NOT permit use of a financial joint-sponsor

CR1 Spousal Visa

Pro: Green card is included, you save about $1,000 in fees.
Pro: If you do not meet financial eligibility: Use of a financial joint-sponsor is always allowed
Pro: Her family attends wedding
Con: You must marry first before submitting.
Con: Takes about 6 months longer
Con: Three sets of documents to prepare

Watch the NEW K1 vs CR1 video at

http://www.visacoach.com/fiancee-or-spouse-visa-video.html

Or call me directly at 1-800-806-3210 x702 to discuss your options.

Frequently Asked Questions:

After she gets her fiancee visa, can we marry in her country, then travel together to the USA?

No. When she travels using the K1 fiancee visa, she MUST at that time be unmarried. If she becomes legally married before the visa is used, it must be abandoned. And you would have to start all over again, this time applying for a Spousal Visa. You MAY have a celebration, or cultural or religious ceremony providing it is NOT considered by the government of her residence country as a legal marriage.

We are already married, I don’t want to wait 12 months, Can we apply for a Fiancee Visa?

No. Once married, the option to apply for a fiancee visa is taken off of the table. She must be unmarried to apply for, as well as use the fiancee visa.

We plan to marry in six months, can we apply for the spousal visa now?

No. You must wait until after the wedding, and you have your marriage certificate BEFORE submit the Spousal Visa Petition package.

by Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach

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