Todays topic is: Why does it take longer to get a spouse visa than a fiance visa? Currently Fiance Visas take about 7-9 months for processing, spouse visas 14 to 18 months for processing.
Why is there an 8 month penalty?
On the face, it seems counter intuitive. If you are married to someone you would think it would be faster to bring THEM home,someone you had really committed too, versus bringing home someone you basically are only dating.
The answer lies in the nature of the two visas.
A spouse visa is an Immigrant Visa, officially for permanent immigration.
A Fiance visa is a non-immigrant visa, officially only for a temporary visit.
A fiance visa as a non-immigrant visa, is just like a tourist visa, it is only good for a short temporary visit, A fiance traveling on a fiance visa, is only allowed 90 days. I offer a more detailed comparison on Fiance Versus Spouse Visa for those with more questions.
In theory the time should be used to visit the USA, check out the American fiance where he lives, meet the potential mother in law, and make an informed decision whether marriage and living in the USA is a good idea.
If marriage takes place, the couple takes another step, called Adjustment of Status, when foreign spouse tells immigration she wants to stay, by applying for the green card.
Getting a green card, takes 3 months to a year. But since the couple is married and living together happily in the USA, the time goes by quickly.
If instead the couple gets married first they apply for a spouse visa. The spouse visa is not for temporary visit. The foreign spouse is expected to enter the USA and to remain permanently. They already made the committment to each other, so there is no need to “check out” where the American lives anymore. The spouse visa is for regular imigration and the spouse will be already approved for her green card and to live permanently in the USA.
This basically is where the extra time needed to process the case comes in, the Additional time it takes for the green card to be approved, is added to the visa application process. So any Spouse Visa Timeline typically takes about 6 months longer, in order to obtain approval for permanent residency and as the couple is usually living apart, the extra time drags on slowly.
Most couples prefer to start their new lifes in the USA as quickly as possible, so except for the few couples who have an overpowering personal reason to get married overseas they generally opt for the fiance visa route.
By Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach