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Fiancé and Spousal Visas: Q&A With a Former USCIS Officer

Mar 8, 2023

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Hey, everybody. Eric here. Just want to talk a little bit about the fiancé visa versus the marriage green card, and some of the important decisions that you need to make before you determine which one is right for you. So if you’re trying to decide which visa to apply for, the fiancé visa or the marriage green card, there are some common questions that might help you make your decision a little easier.

Before we begin, here’s a quick primer: The K1 visa is for the fiancé of a US citizen who is living outside the US. The spousal visa (marriage green card) is available to spouses of US citizens as well as lawful permanent residents living abroad. So let’s get into some common questions about these two immigration paths. Which is faster: the K1 visa or the marriage green card?

So historically, the K1 visa was processed faster than the marriage green card, making it the preferred option for a lot of couples. Recently, that started to change, and the K1 visa and marriage green card are taking roughly the same amount of time to process. In some cases, the fiancé visa is actually taking longer. How long do they take to process?

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The current processing time for the fiancée visa application is about 13 to 18 months, more than the average processing time for the I-130 application, which is the petition that’s the first step in the marriage green card process. That’s taking about 9 to 13 months. Keep in mind, though, that this is only the first phase in the application process for both visas. And when you have the visa in your hand depends a lot on where you’re applying from.

So let’s talk about price. The marriage green card application is more affordable than the K 1. It’s about $1,200 in fees for the spousal visa and about $2,000 for the fiancé visa. Now, that includes AOS, the adjustment of status that the fiancé visa applicant will need to complete once they arrive in the U.S. But the K-1 is about to get a lot more expensive. The government recently announced that it’d be raising immigration fees significantly, and it could happen as soon as May 2023. So what does that mean for K 1 and marriage green card applications? Well, the spousal visa will increase to around $1,485 with the fee hike, so not much of an increase.

But a K1 visa will jump in total to over $3,000. That’s more than double the cost of the marriage green card. The reason for that is that a lot of the parts of the process associated with AOS are going to go up in price a lot, including the employment authorization document (EAD) and the advance parole travel document that will allow you to travel while your adjustment is pending. So if cost and timing are an issue and you’re able to get married outside the US, then the spousal visa could be a good option for you.

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