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How is a Fiancé Visa Different from a Marriage Green Card?

Marriage provides wonderful opportunities for immigration. But even the best family situations are no guarantee of success when it comes to satisfying the requirements immigration officials. You need to take a strategic approach to reach your goals.

An immigration attorney can help you determine whether it makes more sense to use a fiancé visa or wait to apply for a marriage-based green card. To help make the decision, here’s some background on these immigration tools.

Temporary vs Permanent

The biggest difference between a K-1 fiancé visa and a marriage green card is that the fiancé visa offers only a temporary means to enter the U.S. while a marriage-based green card allows the holder to remain in the U.S. permanently. A fiancé visa is only valid for 90 days. This visa is designed to enable a fiancé to come to the U.S. so an engaged couple can be married here.

A marriage green card, on the other hand, makes the holder a lawful permanent resident with a permanent immigration visa. As long as requirements are met, a green card holder can live and work in the U.S. for as long as they want.

Location Can Be a Critical Factor

When couples are deciding whether a foreign partner should apply for a fiancé visa or apply for a marriage based green card after the wedding, location often plays a big role in the decision. Is the location of your wedding an issue of major importance? If you really want to hold your wedding in the U.S., it makes sense to apply for a fiancé visa. 

If the foreign partner is already in the U.S. on a valid visa, you may not need a fiancé visa but it is important to ensure that the terms of the current visa would allow for marriage. An immigration lawyer can advise you on how to handle the situation. If you violate the terms of a visa, you might establish an immigration record that could prevent you from obtaining permanent resident status.

If the foreign partner is outside the U.S. and you want to hold the wedding in that location, you can do so and then sponsor the new spouse for a green card through consular processing. This can be a more cost-effective option, but it could result in a lengthy separation if one spouse needs to return to the U.S. while the other spouse remains behind waiting for a visa.

How to Get a K-1 Fiance Visa

The first step toward obtaining a K-1 fiance visa is to determine your eligibility. The sponsoring partner must be a U.S. citizen. Fiancés of lawful permanent residents cannot apply for a fiancé visa. You will need to demonstrate several factors, including:

  • Both partners’ eligibility to marry legally under U.S. law
  • The authenticity of your relationship, such as with photos and correspondence
  • Intent to marry, such as having reservations for a wedding venue
  • The sponsoring partner’s income meets guidelines

In addition, you must usually show that you have met in person at least once in the previous two years. Your attorney could help you obtain a waiver of this requirement in certain situations.

American Dream®™ Law Office Helps with Your Best Options for Marriage Immigration

Your approach to marriage-based immigration can have far-reaching effects. At American Dream®™ Law Office, we help our clients choose the best options to reach their immigration goals, and then we guide them through the process and fight to protect their rights and interests until they reach a positive outcome. To find out how we could assist in your situation, contact us today.

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