Think you’ve found love and are ready to take the next step, but your partner lives overseas? I
am often asked whether it “better” to file a fiancée visa or a spouse visa. The first consideration
is obvious: are you married? If you are married, you cannot apply for a fiancée visa for your
spouse. The next consideration is what is your status: are you a US citizen or a legal permanent
resident? If you are a legal permanent resident (green card holder), you cannot apply for a
fiancée visa, as that visa is available to only petitioners who are US citizens.
Fiancée K-1 Visa
A K-1 visa is for individuals living outside the US who are engaged to US citizens. For this
process, the petitioner files an application for their fiancée through USCIS and must submit
evidence that he/she has met their fiancée within the two preceding years. Additional evidence
must be submitted to show that the couple intends on marrying once the beneficiary arrives in the
US. Upon approval, the visa application is transferred to the National Visa Center and then the
applicant schedules an interview at the consulate closest to them. Once the K-1 visa is stamped
into their passport, your fiancée can come to the US. You must marry your fiancée within 90
days for the K-1 visa to remain valid. Upon marriage, a Petition for Permanent Residence is filed
with proof of the marriage. The K-1 beneficiary cannot receive a green card through any other
spouse other than the spouse that applied the fiancée visa for them.
The marriage visa allows a legal permanent resident or a US citizen to file for an immigrant visa
for their spouse. The process begins with filing an Immigrant Petition with USCIS. Upon
approval, the application is sent to the National Visa Center which notifies your spouse once a
case is created and whether the visa is ready to be processed. Thereafter, your spouse files a DS-
260, Immigrant Visa Registration, and uploads the requested documents to the NVC site. Once
all the required documents are submitted, your spouse will be scheduled for an interview at the
closest consulate or embassy in the applicant’s home country. Upon issuance of the visa, the
individual has a certain amount of time to enter the US. When your spouse enters the US, they
enter with the benefits of being a green card holder and will be able to work and travel with few
A Choice to be Made
Deciding which process is right for you depends on you and your partner’s circumstances. If you
would like to bring your partner to the US sooner and will marry in the US, fiancée visas may be
your best option since, historically, K-1 fiancées have been able to enter the US at a quicker rate.
It is worth mentioning that processing times for these petitions are constantly fluctuating and
have been taking longer since the COVID pandemic. On the other hand, if you and your partner
do not want to wait to marry in the US and you want your spouse to enter the US as a green card
holder, then the spousal visa is your best option.
Call us at (954) 881-8820 to discuss which option best fits your needs. Let us guide you in
bringing your loved one to the US!