Marriage Green Card vs Fiancé(e) Visa
The decision to apply for a marriage-based visa or a fiancé(e) visa is different with every couple. There are many different things they should consider in making a decision. One consideration is where the couple wants to marry. Another consideration is where the couple resides. Another, is the time the process will take and the cost. This article will discuss some of the differences between the two processes. It will also look at these considerations, to help you better decide the right process for you.
The principal difference between a marriage visa and a fiancé(e) visa.
The main difference between a marriage visa and a fiancé(e) visa is when the parties enter into marriage. With a fiancé(e) visa, the foreign national enters the United States before marriage. Then after the marriage, he or she files for a green card. With a marriage visa, the couple marries before they begin the immigration case. Then, most of the immigration case occurs outside the United States. When the spouse enters the United States, he or she will already be a permanent resident. Note also, only a United States Citizen can apply for a Fiancé(e) visa. If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, you would have to apply for a marriage visa.
With the Fiancé(e) visa, the United States Citizen files a petition with USCIS. This petition establishes that the couple have met each other in person and are free to marry. After USCIS approves the case, the Department of State processes the case. The foreign national fiancé(e) will receive an interview for the fiancé(e) visa. If approved, he or she will then be able to enter the United States. Upon arriving, he or she will have 90 days to enter into marriage. After the marriage, he or she will then be able to apply for a green card.
With the marriage visa, the couple will marry outside the United States. The United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent resident then files a petition with USCIS. The Petition establishes that the couple has a good faith marriage. In other words, it is not for a green card alone. After USCIS approves the case, the Department of State processes the case. The foreign national spouse will receive an interview for the marriage visa. If approved, he or she will then be able to enter the United States. Upon arriving, he or she will already be a lawful permanent resident and will receive a green card.
So, with the fiancé(e) visa, much of the immigration case occurs within the United States. With the marriage visa most of the immigration case occurs outside of the United States. This difference is important to keep in mind in making a decision.
Where do you want to marry?
A first question in deciding which visa is right for you, is to determine where you want to celebrate your marriage. If you are the foreign national, do you want the marriage to occur in your home country with your customs and traditions? Or would you rather celebrate the marriage in the United States. If you have a strong desire one way or the other, than one visa might be a better option for you. With the fiancé(e) visa, you would be marrying in the United States. With the marriage visa, in most cases, the marriage will occur outside the United States.
Where do you live?
If you do not have a strong preference as to where you want to marry, then a next question becomes where the parties live. If the U.S. citizen petitioner resides in the United States, then many times a fiancé(e) visa is a good option. This is because the couple can be together throughout the green application processes. If the U.S. citizen petitioner is currently residing outside the U.S., then the marriage visa might be a better option. This is because the couple can live together while most of the case processes.
How long are you willing to be separated?
With either case, usually some separation is inevitable. Both cases take time to process. Usually though, if the U.S. citizen petitioner is residing in the U.S., the separation will be longer with a marriage visa. In most cases it will take longer to process and receive an interview for a marriage case than it will for a fiancé(e) visa. Yet, if separation is not an issue, usually the overall process for a marriage visa will be shorter. This is because the foreign national spouse will not have to apply for a green card after he or she enters the United States. He or she would enter the United States a permanent resident.
The cost of the process?
Strictly in terms of government filing fees, the marriage visa will cost less than a fiancé(e) visa. After the fiancé(e) enters the U.S., and the parties marry, he or she must still apply for permanent residency. This will lead to more filing fees. Other costs to consider would be, the cost of the marriage, as well as travel costs the parties may face during the wait. For example, if the U.S. citizen spouse travels multiple times to see his or her spouse outside the United States.
Other considerations in making a decision.
There are many other considerations that the parties might face in making a decision. One might be if either party has children, especially if the foreign national’s children intend to immigrate with them. Here there are additional applications and processing fees. Some other factors might be if the foreign national is employed, is attending higher education, or owns property that must be sold. All of these, and many other considerations particular to you, might play into a decision as to which case is best for you.
Making the decision
The decision about what type of case to choose is dependent upon you and your individual case. This is a difficult decision, that could affect your relationship in many ways. It is also a decision that will take time and commitment on your part. Having an experienced attorney to guide you through the process of making a decision is essential.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to request a free consultation by clicking this link. You may also call or text us at +1-818-741-1117.
Share this post...
Michael Ashoori, Esq.
U.S. Immigration Lawyer
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.