Tourist or Fiancee’ or Spouse Visa — Which Is Better?

Tourist or Fiancee’ Or Spouse Visa.  Which is Better?

(Updated 17 July 2019)



I get a lot of comments and emails on this subject.  Here’s one that came in not long ago (edited for privacy).

People want to meet up with their Filipina sweethearts but they just don’t know what sort of visa or wait time, or expense is involved.

Here’s a Sample

I have a similar situation. My friend in the Visaya wants to visit me in the United States.

1.  She is single with no banking account. She has a job and a bachelor 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

  1.  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 would convince a consular officer that she has strong ties to the Philippines 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”, since nay 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 males her more employable in the USA.

And if the State Department or the USCIS find out about the boyfriend who sent in this question, her chances of a tourist visa are virtually zero.

The office 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 because she is now married to a US citizen, skipping the whole Finance’ visa or Spousal visa, skipping the whole application and vetting process already in place to qualify fiancees or foreign-citizen wives.

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 and give the D=State Department your passwords, so they can “read your mail” as much as they wish to.

So for any couple, especially one who already has intentions of marrih=ge, 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?

Tourist or Fiancee' Or Spouse Visa,  Which is better?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 which will allow 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, that 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 take 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 K1 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.

IR1 CR1, Why Are There Two?

These are both the same visa, basically .. an “Immediate relative visa.  The IR1 is for spouses who have been married to (the same) US citizen for two years or more.

The CR1 is for spouses who have been married for less than two years.

The difference in how the system works is, a “CR1” spuse comes to the USA as an immigrant and must apply for tha change of status  (conditonal green card) just as an unmarried Fiancee’ would.

An IR1 spouse arrives in the Untided Sates as a Legal ermenent Resident and will normally be isued a green card aupon 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.

Conclusion

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?

6 thoughts on “Tourist or Fiancee’ or Spouse Visa — Which Is Better?”

  1. I agree that it is always safer to take the Fiance or Spouse visa route. It may take longer than the Tourist visa route but honestly, if you do marry the woman, you will still end up doing the whole process anyway. You would still have to file the petition, you would still have to submit the Affidavit of Support and need to meet the 125% poverty threshold. In the meantime, your “spouse” can’t legally work while she has no green card.

    Bobby and I filed a DCF, and it took us only 3 months to get the petition approved and the visa approved in 5 months from approval of the petition (only because I scheduled the visa interview much later). Since we have been married for over 10 years before the filing, I was already LPR by the time I arrived. The green card only got delayed because no one was at home when it arrived.

    1. @Claudette

      Thanks again for contributing and for your authoritative report. Always good to hear from someone who has been through the process.

  2. Brian Joseph Kotrich

    The waiting time for my Form I-130, for my wife/spouse, married over two years (we were married in the Philippines, then were living in Cambodia), jumped up to over one year waiting time at the Nebraska Service Center.
    “Case Processing Times…
    2. 11 Months to 14.5 Months
    U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21”
    https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/

    This happened at about the same time that the US Embassy in Manila stopped processing the Form I-130. I’m guessing they transferred their backlog of applications to Nebraska.

    I had filed the visa application, Form I-130 in the US. It was officially accepted in late August, 2018. It was one week away from being processed in early June, 2019. So I flew back to be in the Philippines again and be here for her for the appointments in Manila. Then the processing time was set back three, now four more months. We are waiting, waiting, in Cebu….

    1. @ Brian Joseph Kotrich

      Thanks for contributing. It’s always great to have people actually involved in the process report on their experiences, both good and bad.

      Many years ago when I brought my fiancee’ to the USA on a K-1 and married her, we fell into the clutches of the USCIS Nebraska Service Center because of the address of our US residence. The normal path of changing status and naturalization in three years turned into more than 5 … strictly because of the sk=low as a turtle “Service” we received from Nebraska. Sad.

      Closing the overseas USCIS offices and, in general, slowing down the whole immigration process as demonstrated by the current administration hurts a lot of people. But what can we do? The US is alleged to be a democracy, and this is the way things currently function. Hope your wait does not last too long. The bright side is, Cebu is a nice place to be “stuck”. Godspeed.

  3. Samuel Bunch

    I have lived here in the Philippines for over 2 years. Mu filipina fiance and I want to be married and reside in the Philippines. We intend to only go to the US for a month each year to visit my family. I purchased a condo here, we have joint bank accounts, I have a Philippines DL and I own a car. What is our best plan of action? Thank you, Sam.

    1. Samuel Bunch

      Thanks for contributing and for an excellent question.

      The problem is, at this point, I really have no answer for you.

      What you and your wife want to do is fine and I believe totally sensible. The problem is, what you want to do is 180 degrees out of phase with what the US government feels to _ought_ to want to do.

      19 years ago when my Filipina wife and I were making the same sort of plans we decided that she would a come to the USA (on a Fiancee’ visa) and stay in the US until she qualified for US citizenship. This she did and we now live in the Philippines with her able to come and go as she wishes.

      This is not what you currently want and I fully i=understand the path my wife and I took is not the path you want to take,

      If you live in the Philippines with her remaining a Philippine citizen and you try to visit the USA together every year you are going to play the game of “visa roulette” I have written about here. If she can demonstrate strong ties of hers that will return her to the Philippines, she ought to be able to get a US Tourist visa, in which case, you’re home free.

      Read the other comments here, and on this article:

      https://philfaqs.com/im-a-us-citizen-why-cant-my-filipina-wife-get-a-tourist-visa-to-the-usa

      I was happy to see that right away several other Americans reported that their wives were able to navigate the US Tourist visa “thicket”. Godspeed.

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