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Which is Faster: A Fiance/Fiancee or Spousal Visa?

closeup of married couple's hands with wedding rings on them

If you are not yet married, there are a couple of options with respect to the type of visa to seek for your future spouse — a traditional marriage-based visa or a K-1 visa for fiances/fiancees. With respect to speed, there are two issues — getting the spouse/future spouse in-country and getting the spouse his or her status as a permanent resident. The question of which is faster depends on a number of circumstances.

Further, for a spousal green card, processing times are different if the sponsoring spouse is a US citizen or a permanent resident. Processing speeds for US citizens are much faster. In that case, a marriage-based visa application may be the better option, but other factors must be considered, such as local USCIS processing times, which fluctuate widely based on the processing center, and how many applicants are applying for a spousal visa at the same time.

For many applicants, the first concern is being able to live together. If this is your only consideration, than a fiance visa might be the fastest route. However, other factors should be considered. For example, when your fiance arrives in the United States, he or she will not have immediate work authorization, and then, you must get married, and then, your spouse nust apply for a green card. Many couples prefer to arrive in the United States with a green card so they can begin their lives together properly.

It should also be noted that, if the location of the wedding matters, then this consideration might be determinative. For K-1 visas, the wedding MUST occur in the United States and occur within 90 days of entry.

K-1 processing

Form I-129F (“Petition for Alien Fiancé/Fiancée”) is the form to file to obtain a K-1 visa. This is filed by the US citizen or permanent resident sponsoring the future spouse. Once approved by the immigration services, the overseas fiance/fiancee will have a visa interview at their local consulate office.

Current processing can be as quick as six months to close to a year. That includes about five to eight months for the immigration services to process and approve Form I-129F and one to three months to obtain a response from the National Visa Center and have the interview scheduled, allowing a visa for entry to be issued. From that point, the future spouse has six months to enter the US and the couple has 90 days to be married. But, the K-1 visa is not an immigrant visa. The couple will have to apply for an adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence status for the new spouse. That process can take another 18 to 36 months.

Marriage-based visa applications (Form I-130):

Form I-130 ("Petition for Alien Relative") is the form to file to obtain a marriage-based visa. Like the Form I-129F, the form is filed by the US citizen or permanent resident on behalf of the spouse.

Current processing is about 12 to 18 months for US citizens filing Form I-130.


As can be seen, the K-1 visa is faster if the goal is to have the spouses living in the US as quickly as possible. However, this may not be the only consideration, because a fiance will later need to apply for their green card once inside the United States. Depending on processing times, it may be better to move forward with a spousal visa, because your spouse will arrive in the United States with full authorization to live and work in the United States.

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.

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