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How Is A Fiancé Visa Different From A Spousal Visa?

When applying for a fiancé visa or a spousal visa, things may feel confusing at times, which is entirely understandable. There are many new ideas and things to consider, and some of the legal terminology might be incredibly daunting if you have never done this before. 

At Meimaris Law, we want to make sure that you have all the information you need when you, or your loved one, are immigrating to the US. We prepare all of the paperwork and guide you every step of the way throughout the process.

Let's examine what the difference is between a fiancé visa and a spousal visa so you know what to expect when applying, and can decide what the best option is for you. 

What is a Fiancé Visa?

The fiancé visa, also known as a K-1 visa, is a visa that allows an engaged partner of a US citizen to enter the United States to marry and apply for a green card or permanent residence in the US. 

For a fiancé visa to be approved, the engaged couple must prove that their relationship is real, that they have physically met at least once in the past two years, that they are legally able to get married, and that their relationship is legitimate and real. 

Occasionally you can skip the fiancé visa, get married, and apply for a spousal visa, but this really depends on your unique situation. You should consult an attorney for guidance because everyone’s situation is different and so are the processes. 

What are the requirements for a K-1 Visa?

There are a few requirements for applying for a K-1 visa or fiancé visa, including:

  1. The petitioner must be a US citizen because a green card holder is not eligible to sponsor his/her fiancé for a K-1 visa.
  1. Both parties must be unmarried, and there must be proof that any previous marriages have been legally ended. 
  1. You both have to provide evidence of the legitimacy of your relationship. 
  1. You have to prove that you and your fiancé have met in person at least once within the previous two years prior to filing your petition.
  1. Have no serious criminal issues or security threats.
  1. Have no past violations of US immigration laws.
  1. Have an acceptable immigration medical exam which shows you have no communicable diseases.
  1. Both parties will have to provide a signed statement stating that they intend to marry each other within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé's arrival in the US. 

How long does it take to get a K-1 Visa?

It may take about eight months for USCIS to process and approve the fiance visa petition and another couple of months after submitting additional required documents to the National Visa Center before a consular interview will be scheduled at the closest US embassy. Be aware that there are backlogs due to the pandemic and approving your petition may take longer than expected.

What is a Spousal Visa?

A spousal visa is a visa which allows the spouse of a US citizen or permanent resident to enter the US as an immigrant. 

A green card is mailed to the immigrant after he/she arrives in the US with a spousal visa. 

A green card is a document that shows you are a permanent resident of the US and can work and travel anywhere.

How do you qualify for a spousal visa?

To qualify for a spousal visa, you must:

  • Be married to the petitioner or sponsor (a US Citizen or US Permanent Resident)
  • Prove that your marriage is legitimate
  • Have no serious criminal issues or security threats 
  • Have no past violations of US immigration laws
  • Have an acceptable immigration medical exam which shows you have no communicable diseases 
  • The US petitioner or sponsor must prove financial ability to support you and provide an Affidavit of Support
  • Your visa must be approved at a consular interview

There are two ways your spouse can secure a green card through marriage:

  1. Consular Processing 
  2. Adjustment of Status

What Is Consular Processing?

Consular Processing is a process used when a US citizen or a legal permanent resident (a green card holder) wants to apply for immigration of a spouse or fiancé living in another country.

After submitting the paperwork to USCIS and initial approval, cases will be transferred to the National Visa Center for processing. 

After filing additional documents and information with the National Visa Center, the spouse or fiancé will be interviewed at the US Embassy in their country. 

If everything goes well, the spouse will be given an immigrant visa and will be able to come to the US as an immigrant. A green card will then be mailed to his/her home. Similarly, a fiancé will be given a K-1 visa to come to the US to marry within 90 days and apply for a green card in the US.

What Is Adjustment Of Status?

Adjustment of status is a popular way a spouse can secure a green card through marriage while living in the US. It is a process that is often used when somebody comes into the US legally with a visa and marries a US citizen. This allows the foreigner to get a green card in the US without having to go back to his/her home country. 

There is a lot of documentation to fill out at immigration services, and your spouse will get a social security number and employment authorization. 

If all legal and discretionary requirements are met and your documentation is correct, then there should be no issues getting a green card following your interview at USCIS. But, there are many nuances involved and much attention must be given to the legal details; otherwise you may be accused of visa fraud and denied a green card.

What's the difference between a fiancé visa and a green card based on marriage?

The main difference between a fiancé visa and a green card based on marriage is that a fiancé visa is obtained in order to travel to the US, and a green card is applied for and issued after arrival. 

The other differences between a fiancé visa and a green card include:

  • A fiancé visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visas which does not allow for an open-ended stay as it is a single-entry visa, has a time limit and expires after 90 days
  • You cannot get a green card if you marry anyone else other than the person who petitioned for you to come on a fiancé visa
  • A green card represents the holder's potential right to live and work within the US permanently
  • To apply for a fiancé visa, you must be engaged to be married, but to get a green card based on marriage, you have to be married already

We hope this has helped you understand the differences between a fiancé visa and a green card based on marriage

The application process for both a green card and a K-1 visa can be a long and often difficult journey. With the help of our team, we can review your case and carefully determine what strategy is best for you and your fiancé or spouse. 

We encourage you to get a free consultation with our legal professionals in order to make an informed decision about the best strategy for your particular situation. 

Get in contact today with the Meimaris Law team to make your application as stress-free as possible. 

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