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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawThe Difference Between the K-1 Fiance Visa and US Marriage Visas

The Difference Between the K-1 Fiance Visa and US Marriage Visas

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, we're going to be discussing specifically the K-1 fiancée visa and doing kind of a comparison contrast to the various U.S. marriage visas; specifically the CR-1, IR-1 and K-3 marriage visas.

So why are we doing this? Well over the years, a lot of folks that come to us with respect to immigration matters in a family context, especially where it's involving a foreign spouse or proposed spouse, basically the first question they ask is “what's going to be easier, for lack of a better term, most folks ask what's going to be easier - the K-1 fiancée visa or a marriage visa?”. “Easy” is probably the wrong question to ask. The question to ask is what are the benefits involved with the fiancée visa versus the marriage visas? So let's go through that.

First of all, the fiancé visa generally processes faster compared to the U.S. marriage visas but definitely faster than categories such as the CR-1 or the IR-1 which generally take longer due to a multitude of different reasons which I'll get into momentarily. But specifically as sort of counter-intuitive as it may seem, the K-1 fiancée visa tends to process more quickly compared to the marriage visas. The K-3, which is a supplemental filing that occurs after the initial filing for CR-1 or IR-1 benefits,  the K-3 does process faster compared to the CR-1 and the IR-1 but the downside of the K-3 is it does process slower than the fiancée visa and the K-3 is sort of in the middle in the sense that, unlike a CR-1 or an IR-1 visa, it doesn't immediately confer lawful permanent residence upon entry to the United States, and at the same time, it still requires adjustment of status but still processes less quickly than the fiancée visa because the process is much more akin to a marriage visa, notwithstanding the fact that they do tend to process more quickly than the other marriage visa categories.

But back to simply the fiancée visa, the one major benefit of the fiancée visa is it does process more quickly. The downside  in a way, it bifurcates out the overall process where it takes longer and you have to front load processing of the IR-1 and CR-1 visa.  The K-1 visa usually processes out in about right now, 7 or 8 months maybe 9 and all these cases you know, they differ; there's no way to really say with any certainty how a specific case or how long a specific case is going to process. But that being said, the fiancé visa, the K-1, it does process more quickly. So let's say the fiancée gets in the United States in  seven or eight months then the fiancée is permitted to stay in the U.S. for only 90 days; they need to go ahead and marry their American citizen fiancée and they need to go ahead and adjust to permanent residence. This adjustment is on top of the processing time, the processing time to get there, so in a way, you've sort of back-loaded the permanent residence part of this process but you've gotten your loved one there more quickly into the United States, physically. This can pose problems because the fiancée visa, while the adjustment of status is processing, it's rather difficult for the fiancée to leave the United States once they've entered, at least until such time as the green card has been issued. Now the processing of the adjustment of status is going to be very dependent on the local USCIS office and the caseload associated therewith. But that being said, once someone has arrived in K-1 status, unless something such as advance parole was utilized which is discussed in another video I made, unless “advanced parole” is utilized, that individual,  probably it’s not a good idea for them to leave the U.S. Well it's definitely not a good idea if they want to maintain status because leaving before the adjustment has been finalized will result in a cancellation of that individual’s status. But that being said, if an advance parole was obtained, which can take a while, then yes it's possible to depart the United States while maintaining one’s status.

To just sort of moving ahead with respect to how this all works. So you've got the fiancée visa, it moves faster but you have to deal with the adjustment status on the back end. The traditional marriage visa, CR-1 and IR-1 categories, they move more slowly but upon issuance, you've got a green card and upon entry, the foreign spouse enters and is issued an I-551 stamp upon entry that acts as their temporary green card for a year while their permanent green card is sent in the mail.

So basically when looking at this, that's the way to analyze it. You've got the K-1 which is going to move more quickly. You've got the marriage visas, specifically the CR-1 and the IR-1 which is going to move more slowly but issues permanent residence upon entry and then you've got this sort of middle category K-3 which does not confer permanent residence upon entry,  still requires adjustment of status in the United States, but on the plus side, the K-3 does move a little bit faster sometimes than the CR-1 and the IR-1. It should be noted that there is a policy with the National Visa Center called “administrative closure”. If the NVC receives an approval notice on an underlying I-130 prior to receiving an approval notice on I-129F K-3 filing, then they'll just go ahead and disregard the K-3 filing and simply proceed on the I-130. So in a lot of ways, sometimes the K-3 can be not particularly advantageous sort of all the way around.