I WANT TO MARRY A FOREIGN NATIONAL. WHAT IS THE BEST VISA OPTION?


FIANCÉ VISA (K-1) vs. SPOUSE VISA (K-3) vs. TOURIST (B-2)

Many people ask us which is the fastest way to bring their loved one to the United States. The options are to marry in the U.S. (Fiancé (K-1) or Tourist (B-2) visa) or marry in your loved one’s home country (Spouse visa K-3). Every case is unique. We encourage you to NOT focus on the immigration aspects of this important event, but rather to use the immigration laws to serve your desire to marry where you want to marry. Also, know that it is impossible to provide a blanket answer that would apply in every situation. Here is a summary of the options you have, with the advantages and disadvantages highlighted. Understand that the actual processing times of any of these visas, but particularly the K-1 and K-3 will vary greatly depending on both the location of the U.S. citizen in the United States and the country of origin of the foreign national spouse. Whichever way you chose to proceed, we look forward to assisting you with your immigration matters.

FIANCÉ(E) VISA (K-1)

ADVANTAGES

  1. You don't need to marry immediately in your Fiancé(e)'s country or the U.S.
  2. You bring your loved one to the U.S. as your Fiancé(e), and you have 90 days to get married. This allows you both to get to know each other better and make a decision about whether you want to spend the rest of your lives together.
  3. You deal nearly exclusively with the U.S. immigration system and U.S. immigration officials here in the United States.
  4. You avoid dealing with local foreign procedures of marriage in a foreign country in a foreign language.
  5. Your fiancé has a chance to see the country and get familiar with U.S. customs and language before the marriage. Your Fiancé(e) needs to make a strong effort to convince the Immigration Officer at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in her home country, that you are both in love and are planning to get married upon her arrival in the U.S.
DISADVANTAGES

  1. Close family and friends will NOT see your Fiancé (e) get married in the U.S. unless they could manage to obtain another type of visa such as a tourist visa, which is hard to obtain.

SPOUSAL VISA (K-3)

ADVANTAGES

  1. You are both together immediately. Your wife's family and friends are able to attend your wedding without any delay, which is very important for many spouses.
  2. Local marriage in a foreign country can sometimes be accomplished in 10 days, or less.
  3. Depending on the U.S. Consulate, the process could take much less time.
DISADVANTAGES

  1. Extensive supporting documentation is usually necessary for a U.S. Citizen to get married in a foreign country.
  2. It is a two-step process, instead of one. First, you are required to submit a package for the Form I-130. And, second, upon USCIS Notice of Action, you would need to send I-129F Package. It takes time and a lot of patience from both of you.
  3. This process is very document-sensitive which means that if you are missing a document, you may have to fly back to the U.S. in order to obtain a necessary document before process can be completed.
  4. All your documents must be translated into the native language of that country where you are planning to get married. The translation much be certified with attached apostille.
  5. Your might end up with more expenses for the marriage itself and Embassy visa processing charges and fees.

TOURIST VISAS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO K-1 or K-3 VISA

In adjudicating visa applications, the Consul at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is guided by U.S. laws and regulations and not laws of your Fiancé home country. The issuance of non-immigrant visas is governed by the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
U.S. immigration law places the burden of proof on the visa applicant to show that he or she is not planning to immigrate to the United States by using a tourist visa. In other words, each non-immigrant visa applicant must prove to the Consul's satisfaction that s/he will NOT travel to the U.S. in order to reside there permanently. Each applicant must demonstrate that s/he is traveling to the U.S. for ONLY a temporary stay and has strong ties to home country that will compel him/her to return home.
If the officers of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry believe your prospective or actual spouse is coming as a visitor to avoid the delays associated with the K-1 or K-3 visas, these officers have extraordinary power to bar your significant other from entry to the United States for a minimum of five (5) years; and if they believe fraud or misrepresentation is involved, these officers can impose up to a lifetime bar to entry!
To obtain a visitor visa in most countries, documents that provide evidence of the applicant's social, economic, and/or family ties to the home country, as well as correspondence from relatives or business associates they plan to visit, may facilitate the consular officer's decision.
Some examples of documents that may be helpful include:
  • Evidence of employment. A letter from your employer can be useful.
  • Evidence of income (and in some cases evidence of your spouse's income), such as earnings statements.
  • Evidence of immediate family (spouse, children) in the home country.
  • Evidence of ownership of property.
  • Evidence of ongoing studies if applicant is still a student.
  • Evidence of ongoing projects for those in entertainment fields.
  • Your old passport bearing earlier visas and entry stamps indicating the date on which you returned to the home country (for those who have traveled to the U.S. previously).
However, in these times of strict visa scrutiny, it is almost impossible for a young unmarried woman to obtain this type of visa.
If you would like further information about specific case scenarios or situations, please call our office or email us at ckuck@immigration.net to speak to one of experienced immigration attorneys. 
DISCLAIMER: The confidential information provided in this memorandum is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client or other relationship between Kuck Immigration Partners LLC and the recipient. The reader should consult with an immigration attorney before acting in reliance on any such information.

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