Are you one half of a dual nationality couple, wondering about the best means to obtain a visa and join your partner in the United States?
Your two main options are the K1 or Fiancé Visa and the CR-1/ IR-1 Marriage Visa.
The K1 Fiancé Visa
The K1 or Fiancé Visa is the travel document most frequently used to bring a foreign fiancé to the United States. Under this visa, the person has the legal right to remain in the United States for 90 days. Within this period the two must legally marry and the spouse must subsequently apply for an adjustment of status, which will allow him/her to remain legally in the USA.
The main advantage this type of visa offers over the Marriage Visa is a shorter processing time. The average waiting time from the day you file the application to the awarding of a visa is 6 to 7 months for a K1 visa and 8 to 9 months for a CR-1/ IR-1 visa.
The second advantage the K1 Fiancé Visa offers consists in lower fees for the initial application (even if additional fees will have to be paid when applying for an adjustment of status).
The CR-1/ IR-1 Marriage Visa
Although taking slightly longer to process, the Marriage Visa awards the foreign spouse Permanent Residency (Green Card) upon arrival to the United States. It also has the advantage of a lower overall cost.
A distinction should be made between the CR-1 Visa, the type of visa awarded when the couple has been married for less than two years, and the IR-1 Visa, applicable for couples married longer than two years. The CR-1 Visa awards the holder Conditional Permanent Residency for two years, while the IR-1 Visa entitles the visa holder to Permanent Residency for a period of ten years.
To sum up, the US fiancé visa process is comparatively quicker than the immigrant marriage visa process. However, a foreign national entering the US on an immigrant marriage visa will have a safer status than one on the K-1 visa.
If you’re interested in getting more information about the K-1 and CR-1/ IR-1 visas, it is a good idea to consult a competent immigration lawyer. A specialized immigration lawyer can help you get a clear understanding of the process so you can make an informed decision. If you decide to enlist his help, an immigration lawyer will guide you through the process, help you with the paperwork and enhance your chances of obtaining the visa.
Whether you decide to apply for a K-1 or CR-1/ IR-1 visa, it is important to gather the proper documentation and have them translated, if need be, up front, as this will save you a lot of precious time. One thing is of the essence: Do NOT lie to the US Government. Do not apply for a tourist visa when bringing a fiancée to the US for marriage, as this is tantamount to immigration fraud.