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Should you apply for a fiancé visa or spousal visa?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Immigration

Getting married is a major and significant life event for a couple. Often, the process of planning and preparing for their union can be very stressful for the couple. This is often exacerbated when you add the process of applying for a fiancé visa or spousal visa.

Immigration laws provide specific visas for a fiancé or spouse from a different country to re-locate to the United States to be with their U.S. citizen partner and obtain a green card. Depending on your situation and your ultimate goals, one visa may be a better option than the other.

Fiancé visa vs. spousal visa

A fiancé visa (more formally known as a K-1 visa) allows a U.S. citizen to petition for a foreign national fiancé to enter the U.S. for the purpose of marriage. Once approved and the fiancé enters the U.S., they have 90 days to get married. Following the marriage, the holder of the K-1 visa may adjust their status to a permanent resident. Once this process is completed, they are issued a green card.

In contrast, a spousal visa or CR-1 or IR-1 visa allows for a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. to petition for a foreign national spouse to immigrate to the U.S. based on their legal marriage. A CR-1 visa is for those married less than two years while the IR-1 visa is available for those married more than two years.

If international travel after entry on one of these visas is important, then a spousal visa would be the route to take, as any international travel by the immigrant fiancé is not permitted until they are married and the adjustment of status has been filed. Conversely, a spousal visa allows the immigrant spouse to travel abroad immediately after entering the United States. Additionally, they are also permitted to work right away.

Timeline and fees

The application process differs between both visas. On average, it takes about 6 months to get a fiancé visa while it can take 13.5 to 15 months to process a spousal visa. There are various fees throughout the process; however, the current costs for the process for K-1 visa to green card is over $2,000. In contrast, the CR-1 or IR-1 to green card process costs roughly $1,200.

When it comes to the timeline from filing for visa to getting a green card, this is roughly two years for a fiancé visa. Alternatively, it is just over a year for the spousal visa.

Each couple has their unique circumstance, and timing and fees may be a big component in the matter. Thus, it is important that you understand your options for this immigration matter, seeking guidance from a legal professional when necessary.