Fiancé Visa vs Marriage-Based Green Card

If you want to marry and live with your partner, but they aren’t a citizen of the United States, then you might be wondering whether you should apply for a fiancé visa or a marriage-based green card. In most cases, it’s easier and quicker to file a visa petition than it is to get a green card when it comes to applying for permanent resident status.

A fiancé visa or K-1 visa can help bring your immigrating partner to the US so you can get married and apply for residency, but it also has some limitations. Ultimately, whether a fiance visa is a better choice than a marriage-based green card depends on your fiance’s present visa status. If you have questions about fiance visas, feel free to contact us at Andres Mejer Law.

Advantages of Fiance Visas

The main advantage of applying for fiance visa is that USCIS processing times for visa application takes about half the time it would take to apply for a green card with consular processing. You’ll also be able to stay together in the United States while they’re in the process of applying to be a lawful permanent resident.

  • The processing times of applying for a green card through marriage typically takes 10 to 18 months. This means that you and your spouse won’t be able to live together while waiting for the decision on adjustment of status from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • With fiance visa applications, you’ll only need to wait for five to nine months for an nonimmigrant visa to enter the US. Once your immigrant partner arrives, you’ll have 90 days to get married. Once married, your spouse becomes eligible for obtaining a green card. You still need to file your green card application and go through the green process (which takes another five to nine months), but you’ll be able to live together in the US.

If you’re unsure whether you qualify for a fiance visa, consult with an immigration attorney before filing an immigrant petition.

Limitations of Fiance Visas

The major limitation of a fiance visa is that you can only apply for it if your partner is outside the country and doesn’t already have a visa to enter the US. Certain situations can affect your eligibility to go through the immigration process using a K-1 visa. Some examples include the following:

  • Entering the United States using a student visa, TN visa, or tourist visa. Using these visas with the intent to stay indefinitely is considered visa fraud, and can affect future applications and immigrant petitions. Instead, you can use your time together to see whether you’re compatible. Once your partner goes back to their home country, they can apply for a fiance visa or a green card, depending on whether you got married during your time together. Consult an immigration lawyer if you’re unsure whether you’re qualified for a fiance visa.
  • Getting married prior to your fiance visa application. If you married your immigrating spouse before you filed your application, the petitioner can still apply for immigrant visas but not for fiance visas. Getting married to a nonimmigrant prior to applying means that the couple is no longer qualified for a fiance visa.
  • Your fiance is currently in the United States. If your partner is already in the US, then you won’t be able to get a fiance visa since they no longer need it to enter the country.

If your fiancé doesn’t already have a visa, then it may be difficult for her to get one in this climate. Applying for other types of visas when they’re already considering marrying you would likely result in denial of their immigration petition. In this case, fiancé visa may be the right choice, and the only choice, for you.

If you have questions or need legal help getting your fiance or spouse into the US, speak with our experienced immigration attorney at Andres Mejer Law today to get the answers and solutions you need to start your immigration journey.