United States K-1 Visas, Immigrant Visas, and Adjustment of Status
The purpose of this article is to enlighten readers about the pros and cons of processing a US K-1 fiance visa versus an Immigrant spouse visa.
For American Citizens who have an alien fiancee, the K-1 visa is a commonly utilized travel document for bringing the foreign loved one to the United States. In a way, the K-1 visa is simply an entry document as the K-1 visa holder is required to marry the K-1 visa petitioner within 90 days of arrival and file for adjustment of status. Adjustment of status can be costly in terms of both time and resources. Therefore, having an understanding of the K-1 visa process as well as immigrant spouse visas can provide a solid platform from which to make an informed decision regarding all of ones American Immigration options.
When discussing the K-1 fiance visa and the adjustment of status process it is prudent if prospective American petitioners understand the travel documents commonly referred to as Immigrant spouse visas. The officially designated categories of immigrant spouse visas for spouses of American Citizens are the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa. These are officially referred to as immediate relative visas and those entering the United States for the first time on either a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa are accorded lawful permanent residence upon lawful admission to the USA. Those thinking about bringing their loved one to the USA should take note of this fact as the K-1 visa does not permit the K-1 visa holder to enter the United States in lawful permanent resident status. In a sense, the Immigrant visas are a less costly option in terms of resources as the foreign spouse entering the USA with lawful permanent residence is not required to adjust status. Currently, the official fee which must be paid in order to apply for adjustment of status is over one thousand (1,000) United States dollars. Again, those individuals entering the U.S. in IR-1 or CR-1 visa status are not obligated to apply for adjustment of status and therefore would not need to pay the I-485 filing fee. CR-1 visa holders will enter the USA in Conditional Lawful Permanent Resident status if they have been married less than 2 years to their American spouse at the time of admission to the USA. Those with Conditional Lawful Permanent Residence must eventually apply to have the conditionality of their residence lifted.
Regardless of the fact that immigrant travel documents may prove to be a less costly visa option, it ought to be pointed out that it presently takes more time to actually obtain an immigrant visa as opposed to a K-1 visa. It is generally believed that at the time of this writing it takes approximately 11 months to process an Immigrant visa while it takes about 6-7 months to process a US fiance visa. Thus, when forming a strategy with regard to immigration bi-national couples ought to take these timing estimates into account especially if a couple has not yet legally gotten married.
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