The fiancé(e) visa and the immigrant visa allow foreign nationals to immigrate to the US to be with their partners. While both types of visas can accomplish the same goal, they are different in their application. Which type is best for you depends on several factors, including your specific circumstances. Outlined below is a summary of both types of visas and how each compares with the other. Consulting an immigration lawyer can help you determine the best option.
The fiancé(e) visa, also known as a K1 non-immigrant visa, allows a US citizen to bring their fiancé(e) to the US on the condition that the couple marries within 90 days of the fiancé(e) arriving in the country. The US citizen must file Form I-129F, Petition For Alien Fiancé(e) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — the first step to having a fiancé(e) become a permanent resident. Once a couple marries within the 90-day time frame, the foreign fiancé(e) may apply for an adjustment of status with the USCIS to become a permanent resident or a green card holder. Green card holders or permanent residents are not eligible to apply for fiancé(e) visas, and neither are couples who are already married.
The CR-1 and IR-1 visas are the two types of immigrant visas that allow US citizens and permanent residents to bring their spouses to the US. The visas require that couples first marry outside the US and have the US spouse file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS. The CR-1 visa applies to couples married for under two years, while the IR-1 visa is an option for those married for more than two years. Once the petition has been approved, the foreign spouse can apply to the local embassy or consulate for a green card.
Below are the eligibility requirements for both types of visas. Parties must provide proof of any claims they make in the application process.
|Fiancé(e) Visa||Immigrant Visa|
|The sponsoring partner must be a US citizen||The sponsoring partner must be a US citizen or a legal permanent resident|
|Couples must marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e)‘s arrival in the US||Couples must be married outside the US and provide evidence of marriage|
|The sponsor must earn at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Level or complete Forms I-864 and I-864A||The sponsor must earn at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Level or complete Forms I-864 and I-864A|
|You and your fiancé(e) must have met face-to-face at least once in the past two years|
Fiancé(e) Visa Versus Immigrant Visa
Couples already married can only apply for an immigrant visa. Engaged couples may consider the following factors ahead of choosing a visa.
The K-1 visa is a three-step process, while the immigrant visa is a two-step process which results in the cost of filing for the immigrant visa being less than that of the K-1 visa. The K-1 visa costs approximately US$2,025, while the immigrant visa costs about US$1,000. Costs are not inclusive of medical examination, travel, etc.
While processing times for immigrant and K-1 visas have narrowed somewhat, processing times for K-1 visas are still less than those for immigrant visas. The fiancé(e) visa takes approximately six to eight months to process, while the immigrant visa takes about 10 to 12 months.
International Travel After Entry
The ability to travel abroad is another factor that dictates which visa a couple chooses. K-1 visas are single-entry visas. Holders must apply for adjustment of status and obtain advance parole to travel outside the US after entry. If a K-1 visa holder were to travel abroad, they would be deemed to have abandoned their application. On the contrary, the immigrant visa renders a foreign spouse a legitimate green card holder upon their arrival in the US, and they can therefore travel abroad without sanction.
Upon arrival in the US, a spouse with an immigrant visa automatically becomes a permanent resident and can immediately begin the search for work. Holders of fiancé(e) visas may apply for employment authorization; however, the process takes upwards of six months for the document’s approval, during which time they cannot legally work.
Talk to an Immigration Lawyer in Montreal
If you are still undecided about which type of visa best suits your circumstances, talk to our experienced and knowledgeable immigration lawyer at Silver Immigration. Call us at 1 (888) 799-4769 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.