2023 K1 Fiance vs CR1 Spouse Visa Which is Better?

2023 K1 Fiance vs CR1 Spouse Visa Which is Better?

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “what should I do, apply for a fiancé or for a spouse visa, which one is better?“

Well, the answer is not a simple one, there are a few factors that each couple should consider, and make their best choice for their own unique personal situation.



Each year US immigration receives about 30,000 spouse visa applications and at the same time receives about 30,000 fiancé visa applications. There is no clear-cut winner in this race.

Here I will try to list the most important factors that each couple should consider to make their choice.

Processing Speed

Historically, the fiancée visa had a significant speed advantage. Currently in 2022 this advantage has been minimized. Currently USCIS is taking a few months longer to process a fiancé visa, compared to how long they take to process a spouse visa. What this means is that by the time your partner arrives for his or her interview the time difference between one or the other path is pretty slight, currently I expect a spouse visa to take only about three months more than a fiancé visa. And as there are so many factors that speed up or delay a case, this difference in time I believe is not material, and basically a tie for the two different cases.

One or Two Immigration Applications

A spouse visa is “regular immigration”. This means your partner from
the start, is
applying to come to USA,  and remain here permanently. At the same time the visa is granted, permanent residency is granted as well, and the green card is waiting for her or his arrival. A Fiance visa is not regular immigration, instead it is a “non immigrant” visa. This is very similar to a visitor, student, work visa, where the applicant is allowed to remain in the USA only temporarily and eventually is expected to leave.. A Fiance Visa allows your partner to visit for up to 90 days. The hope is that within that time you marry. If you do then in order for your new spouse to remain permanently, a second application must be submitted to US immigration. This is called petition to “Adjust Status” from a K1 visa visitor to that of a permanent resident So a spouse visa requires a single application to obtain permanent residency, a fiance visa requires you to apply twice

Total Costs (through to green card)

A spouse visa includes approval for permanent residency for your partner. So for a fair comparison to a fiancé visa we should add the cost that is added to a fiancé visa for the adjustment of status process for your fiancé who became your spouse after arrival in the USA to get his or her green card.

In practice if you add up all fees for a spouse visa, filing fee, medical fees, green card fee, and Visacoach fees your total cost would be around $3,100

For a Fiancé visa, combined with adjustment of status, the combined fees for filing, medicals and Visacoach would be around $4,500.

So the spouse visa will give you about $1,400 in your pocket.

Work after Arrival

The Spouse visa includes approval for permanent residency. This means your spouse can work immediately upon arrival to the USA. In the case of a fiancé visa the ability to work is only approved around a year after arrival.

Travel outside USA

The Spouse visa includes approval for permanent residency. This means your spouse can travel in and out of USA immediately after initial spouse visa arrival to the USA.  In the case of a fiancé visa your new spouse will not be able to leave the USA for about a whole year after arrival.

Eligibility of Children

If your partner has children, depending on their ages, you can apply for them at the same time you apply for your partner. In the case of a fiancé visa her or his children are eligible to be granted visas if they will be still under 21 years old by the day they arrive on their K2 visas to the USA. In the case of a spouse visa you may only apply for a child, as your stepchild, providing the child was under 18 years old on the day you married their parent.

What if a Joint Sponsor is needed?

In case your income does not meet the eligibility level, you might need to enlist
the support of a financial cosponsor. All spouse visa applications may use a
financial joint sponsor. However The US Embassy depending on the country, might
require a fiancé visa sponsor, must stand alone, and must the financial requirements
on his/her own without assistance from a cosponsor. For example: Philippines, Vietnam and Nigeria do not accept cosponsors for fiancé visa cases.

Criminal History 

In the case of a fiancé visa, due to laws that have been enacted to protect a fiancé from potential spousal abuse, all records of previous arrests, citations, convictions as well as restraining or protection orders must be included as part of the fiancé visa application. Prior incidents involving such issues as domestic abuse, drugs or alcohol might also make an American ineligible to apply.

A spouse visa does not require any disclosure of previous arrests, etc, and only one type of past incident, that of child abuse would be a disqualifying factor.

When can application be submitted 

For a fiancé visa, you can apply immediately after your in person meeting, and up to two years afterwards. For the spouse visa you can apply immediately after the wedding if it was in person, or if you married online, immediately after your first in person meeting after the online ceremony.

Happy spouse, happy life

The most important consideration is “what makes your spouse happy?”.
If your spouse always dreamed of a wedding in a particular church or chapel,
surrounded by her or his family, friends and neighbors, you are best served
regardless of all other factors, to choosee the path that makes your spouse
the happiest.

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