Should I get a Fiancé Green Card or a Marriage-based Green Card? Choosing between K1 and Marriage Visas (IR6, IR1 and F2A)

When love sparks between a U.S. citizen and their partner from another country, a world of exciting possibilities opens up. As your relationship gets more serious, you're likely going to start wondering whether you should apply for a fiancé Green Card or wait to apply for a marriage-based Green Card. At Alvva, we understand the choice might not be straightforward. But we're here to help guide you through your decision.

Understanding the Difference between K1, CR-1, IR-1 and F-2A

Love may know no boundaries, but immigration law does. While there are pros and cons for each type, there’s one key difference to keep in mind:

The K1 Fiancé Visa allows a foreign partner of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage. You’ll need to have your wedding within 90 days post-arrival in the U.S.

On the other hand, a Marriage-Based Green Card is for those already married to a U.S. citizen (CR-1 or IR-1) or permanent resident (F-2A), whether or not the marriage ceremony happened inside or outside the U.S. CR-1 visas are for couples who have been married for less than 2 years, whereas IR-1 visas are for couples who have been married for more than 2 years.

Important Factors to Consider

Choosing between a fiancé visa and a marriage-based Green Card is a personal decision. Both visas require valid proof of your relationship, application fees, and proof that a sponsor can provide financial support. However, there are also pros and cons to each approach. Next, we’ll discuss some factors that may help you to decide.

Top Reasons to Choose a Fiancé Visa

  1. Faster Entry into the United States:

    If you’re currently outside of the U.S., a K1 visa will allow you to enter the country sooner, due to the shorter processing time. However, this comes with the requirement that you need to get married within 90 days after your arrival.

  2. More Flexibility for Wedding Planning:

    Picture your dream wedding in the U.S. Or maybe you’d prefer to celebrate with loved ones abroad. With a fiancé visa, either of those options can become a reality, letting you plan your special day your way.

  3. Temporary Legal Status and Work Authorization:

    Your partner can enter the U.S. with legal status and work authorization, thanks to the fiancé visa. However, additional steps may be necessary to convert the fiancé visa to permanent residency once you’re married.

  4. Easier Transition into Marriage:

    Fiancé visas provide an essential chance for couples to grow together in the U.S. before taking the leap with marriage.

Top Reasons to Choose a Marriage-Based Visa

  1. Immediate, Permanent Legal Status:

    A marriage-based Green Card provides immediate legal status upon approval, with no additional steps needed to establish permanent residency.

  2. No Time Constraints for a Wedding Ceremony:

    With a marriage-based visa, there’s no countdown to tying the knot. You can plan your perfect wedding without time constraints or pressure since you already need to be married in order to apply.

  3. Simplified Immigration Process:

    The marriage-based visa has fewer steps and complexities compared to the fiancé visa process. It’s a more straightforward journey, even though the overall approval process does take more time.

  4. Higher Likelihood of Approval:

    27.6% of all K1 applications (Form i-129-F) were Denied during the first 3 months of 2023. Only 6.4% of Relative Petitions including Spouses (i-130) were Denied during the same time frame.

  5. More Flexibility with Finances:

    The marriage visa allows joint tax filing, which can provide potential advantages through income tax savings.

When deciding between a fiancé visa and a marriage-based visa, each offers unique advantages. It all depends on your situation and what works best for you both. Reflect on your journey together and, if you need to, consult with immigration experts, like your friends here at Alvva. We're here to support you, ease those immigration worries, and turn dreams into reality.

Ready to move forward? We plan to offer support for fiancé visas in the future, but if you decide instead that a marriage visa is the right path for you and your partner, we’re here to help. If you’d like support preparing your marriage Green Card application, get started here.