Tourist or Fiancee’ Or Spouse Visa. Which is Better?
(Updated 17 October 2019)
Tourist or Fiancee’ Or Spouse Visa.
People often ask about How Hard Is It To Get a Tourist Visa to the USA From the Philippines?
People want to meet up with their Filipina sweethearts. They just don’t know what sort of visa or wait time, or expense to plan for.
I get a lot of comments and emails on this subject. Here’s one that came in not long ago (edited for privacy).
I have a similar situation. My friend in the Visayas wants to visit me in the United States.
1. She is single with no banking account. She has a job and a bachelor’s degree.
2. We have the intention of marriage and very likely will marry.
3. Can she file for a K-1 Fiancee visa on her own to come to visit me here?
4. If she can file and I pay the fees, how long usually for approval?
5. Lastly, what is the likelihood she would be approved?
Let’s break this down and answer the questions one by one
If a single woman with a job and a bachelor degree wants to get B-2 Visitor (Tourist) Visa, she has problems to overcome. Intention to return to the Philippines is the “Holy Grail” of the approval process.
What factor(s) would convince a consular officer that she has strong ties to the Philippines? Ties that will cause her to return at the end of her authorized time in the USA?
Having a job in the Philippine is not much of an “anchor factor”. Any job she gets in the USA will probably pay more than what she’s earning in the Philippines.
Having a four-year college degree only makes her more employable in the USA.
And if the State Department or the USCIS finds out about the boyfriend her chances of a tourist visa are virtually zero.
The officer is going to conclude that the reason for the visit is to “hook up” with the boyfriend and get married in the USA. You can get a marriage license for 4 or 5 bucks and get married in the courthouse the same day for free.
Once she has married, she can legally apply for a Change Of Status to become a Permanent Resident. Since she is now married to a US citizen, the couple can skip the whole application and vetting process.
And don’t kid yourself about the government being able to find out … part of the Tourist visa application process is to disclose all your social media accounts so they can “read your mail” as much as they wish to.
So for any couple, especially one who already has intentions of marriage, the B2 Visitor (Tourist) Visa is the wrong choice.
It’s the wrong visa for their situation, it likely won’t be issued, and it’s pretty much a waste of time and money to try.
Cost: One time (non-refundable) Fee: $160 USD. Waiting Time? A few weeks.
So Is The Fiancee’ Visa A Better Choice?
It may well be for couples who have the intention to pursue marriage (as you have described) here.
The B-2 Visa is completely inappropriate. What is ideal for a couple in your situation is a Fiancee’ Visa (USCIS Designation K-1).
The K-1 is applied for (petitioned for) by the intended US citizen spouse from within the USA.
The intended Filipino fiancee’ also files an application with the US Embassy in Manila.
After approval, the Philippine citizen gets a K-1 Visa placed in her passport which allows entry to the USA for up to a 90-day stay.
During those 90 days, if she and the USA citizen petitioner marry, they can then file of an Adjustment of Status with the USCIS.
This allows the woman to legally stay in the USA and obtain a “Green Card” (Legal Permanent Resident document) and eventually US citizenship if she desires.
But What If We Decide Not To Marry?
Should the couple decide marriage is not for them, so long as the fiancee leaves the USA before the 90 day visa period, the visa is canceled and both parties are then free to pursue other relationships, no harm, no foul.
Now to your specific questions:
1. She can not apply for a K-1, which is up to you as the US citizen intended spouse.
2. One of the reasons so many couples wish to use the B-2 Visitor Visa to “shortcut” the process is that the K-1 Fiancee Visa takes a long time to process. The first part of the process (approval of the petition for alien fiance(e), can generally take anywhere between 4-6 months (depending on the workload of USCIS). The second part of the process (NVC and Embassy processing) generally takes another 45-60 days.
3. If both of you are single (free to marry), and both have met within the 2 years preceding the Visa petition and she has no criminal record or any derogatory information on file, her chances for approval are good.
Very few applications are ever disproved.
Costs; As of early 2019, the filing fees for the K–1 process were $535 for Form I-129F (filed with USCIS), $265 to apply for the K visa (paid to the consulate), and $1,225 for Form I-485 and the adjustment of status packet (filed with USCIS), including the biometrics fee. That brings the total government U.S. fee to $2,025. Waiting Time” 6 months to a year.
What If We Get Married in the Philippines?
The third way for a Phil/Am couple to become man and wife and legally come to live in the United States is the State Department IR1 or CR1 (Spousal) Visa.
These are both the same visa, basically .. an “Immediate Relative” visa.
The IR1 is for spouses married to (the same) US citizen for two years or more.
The CR1 is for spouses married for less than two years.
The difference is, a “CR1” spouse comes to the USA as an immigrant. and he or she has to apply for permanent residency.
An IR1 spouse arrives in the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident and will normally be issued a green card upon arrival.
Cost: IR1 or CR1 Petition: $535 USD plus various other charges depending upon factors I won’t go into here … an article in themselves) Waiting Time 6 months to 1 year, total.
So there you have my best effort to clarify what can be some very complex issues into a relatively short (only about 1000 words) article.
Write into the comments box if you have other questions or concerns I haven’t answered.
You now know a bit more about Tourist or Fiancee’ Or Spouse Visa, Which is better?