If you and your foreign spouse are not yet married, there are some options with respect to obtaining a visa for your foreign spouse. The first option is to get married and then seek a marriage-based green card (called an IR-1 visa for "immediate relative" or a CR-1). The other option is to seek a fiancé/fiancée visa (called a K-1 visa).
There is no simple answer to the question of which option is "better." There are many factors and, in the end, it will depend on what the couple wants. For example, with a fiancé/fiancée visa, the couple MUST be officially married here in the United States. If that is not desired, then the marriage-based option is the "better" option. However, if speed is a driving concern, then the K-1 option is "better." Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the two options.
Advantages of the fiancé/fiancée visa
- Fiancé/fiancée visas typically have a faster approval time -- this means that the fiancé/fiancée arrives in the United States quicker than with a spousal visa
- In-country filing for green card -- the K-1 visa is not a green card; after the marriage, the green card must be applied for but that can be done immediately and done in the U.S. rather than in a foreign country
- Potentially easier interview process -- like a spousal visa application, there is an interview required for a fiancé/fiancée visa; this can be easier since it is expected that fiancés/fiancées know less about each other and generally have not cohabitated
- U.S. citizen's income requirement easier to meet -- 100% of current poverty rate vs. 125% for the spousal visa
Advantages of the spousal visa:
- Cost -- generally, the spousal visa has lower fees and costs and skips the costs associated with the fiance visa.
- No re-entry restrictions -- the K-1 visa is a one-time entry visa whereas the spousal visa can be used for multiple trips in and out of the United States
- Uniform filing process -- the spousal visa filing process is the same regardless of what country the spouse is from; the K-1 visa processing is slightly different from country to country
- Work authorization -- the spousal visa can be used to quickly obtain work authorization documents; much longer process for the K-1 visa
- Can be used by a green card holder -- the K-1 visa option can only be used by a U.S. citizen to apply for entry of a fiancé/fiancée
As can be seen, there are many differences between the different types of visas. Which is "better" will depend on these factors and those unique to the couple.
Contact Yekrangi & Associates Today
For more information, contact the Orange County Immigration Attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates today. You are not alone and we will fight for you. Yekrangi & Associates works to meet a higher standard. Our first goal is your satisfaction. Contact us at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation or complete our convenient “Get Your Consultation” form here. We are located in Irvine, California.