I get calls every day. And the conversation usually starts with no preamble but “I have a girl or boy friend overseas, please tell me, what is the BEST visa to get him or her here, Fiance or Spouse?”
My answer always is “well, it depends upon your situation and what your priorities are. It depends on what is important to you. Is it fastest speed? Lowest Cost? Relative simplicity? Are children involved? How old are they? Do you have enough income to self sponsor or do you need a co-sponsor?” And so on.
Only after I understand what the person’s situation is, and what his or her priorities are, can I suggest what visa might fit.
On reviewing annual US immigration statistics comparing how many K1 fiance visas are issued, compared to CR1 spouse visas, there is no clear cut winner in the “which is better” contest.
Amazingly enough it’s a TIE !
In recent experience about 40,000 of EACH are issued annually.
Again the real answer is “it depends”. That is one of the main reasons I invite future clients to first book a free case evaluation with me. Besides giving us the chance to get to know each other, and feel if we can work together, it gives me the opportunity to learn what is going on, and what the person wants. Then together we discuss the pros and cons and figure out which of the two visas best fits.
But today, I am going to list just the PROS, the TOP positive reasons why most who choose the Fiance Visa path, actually choose it. Next month I will take the other side and list the top reasons why a Spouse visa path is chosen instead.
Reason #1. Fiance visa is twice as fast
In 2018 this means while a spouse visa takes 14 to 18 months on average, a Fiance visa will get your fiancee to the US much sooner, in half the time, only 8 to 9 months on average.
The reason the spouse visa takes longer than the fiance visa, is because the time to approve permanent residency is included in the spouse visas processing time.
A K1 Fiancee visa is considered a non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant means it is only for a short and temporary stay, and that is only 90 days. This compares to a regular immigration visa like a CR1 Spouse Visa which not only gives the person permission to enter the USA, but also grants permission to remain permanently as a lawful permanent green card holding resident.
A fiance visa does not need to include the the time it takes to review for permanent residency and green card approval, only approval for a short 90 day visit instead. And immigration knows that their fiance visa review can be less vigorous and thus faster because they understand, that if the fiancee marries and applies to remain in the USA, there will be a second chance to review the applicant all over again, when the new bride or groom applies for permanent residency after arrival, after the wedding.
Reason #2. Wedding in USA
The second reason a fiance visa is better is when the couple wants to celebrate their wedding in the United States. Usually this means they want to share their happiness with their American family and friends.
Reason #3. Fiance’s Children ages 18 to 21 are still eligible to immigrate with Parent
The third reason that a fiancee visa is better is when the foreign fiance wants to bring his or her children to the USA, who are 18 years of age or older.
When applying for a fiance or spouse visa the American sponsor can also at the same time apply to bring to the USA the dependent children of his or her fiance or spouse.
If the wedding has taken place, the American sponsor can apply for a spouse visa, and regular immigration for any child who was under 18 years old on the day of the wedding. The American Spouse is limited to only apply for the under 18 year old’s. Any children aged 18 to 21 would be left behind.
However, if the couple is not married, and instead applying for a Fiance Visa, then the American can sponsor the older children too, up to 21 years of age.
Reason #4. Single trip Engagement appears more bona fide vs single trip Wedding.
Finally a fiance visa may be better than a spouse visa, when a couple plans to only meet once, only make one trip, and only meet a single time and then apply for the visa. This is because the timeline of their relationship will seem to make more common sense. The couple who makes a marriage proposal, after meeting face to face, that then applies for a visa have followed a more normal courtship progression of getting to know each other first, before making life changing decisions. And if their acquaintance has been short, they still have more time to get to know each other, while the fiance visa is pending before having to make the final commitment at the altar.
This compares to a couple who has never met, and sight unseen, agree to marry, make arrangements in advance of the trip, and then almost without catching breath to get over jet lag move directly from arrivals at the airport to the altar.
Remember the consular officer making the approve or deny decision, does not know you. Does not know how honest and sincere you are. However, he is aware of some dishonest people who offer money and a free overseas trip, to an American willing to marry, then sponsor a foreigner for immigration.
If your genuine relationship follows the same apparent course that some common sham applications follow, the consular officer might not be able to identify yours from the other. And for a consular officer, “when in doubt, the safest decision, is to deny”
To summarize, Couples who only have ONE TRIP, to meet in person, then propose, then apply for fiance visa, will appear to a skeptical consular officer more Bona Fide, than a couple who only have ONE TRIP, where all marriage plans, had been made and committed to in advance of the first in-person meeting, and who carried out those prearranged plans immediately upon arrival.
Next time I will describe the top good reasons why a CR1 Spouse Visa is better.
By Fred Wahl