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Fiancé Visa or Marriage Petition?

A critical decision that couples have to make is whether to apply for a Fiancé Visa or Marriage Petition.  Sometimes there is no choice between a Fiancé Visa or Marriage Petition.

If the foreign national has been refused entry into the United States the Fiancé Visa Petition is really the only choice between a Fiancé Visa or Marriage Petition.

For example, let’s say that the foreign national fiancé attempts to visit the United States on a Tourist Visa and spend some time with his loved one.  However, at the border, the Customs and Border Protection officer decides that he has concerns that the foreign national may decide to stay in the United States once he is admitted.

In this scenario, the Customs and Border Protection Officer has Summary Removal Powers; that is to say that the officer can decide right then and there that the foreign national is not admissible into the United States.  A finding of inadmissibility can create HUGE problems.

Instead, in many cases the Customs and Border Protection officer will give the foreign national an opportunity to withdraw his request to enter into the United States.  Since this request is voluntary, there is no finding of inadmissibility.  However, as a practical matter, the foreign national will have tremendous difficulty entering the United States on a tourist visa at any other point of entry.

Based on the above example, if the foreign national and the United States citizen are or will become engaged, the only real option is the Fiancé Visa.  This can be unfortunate because many couples do not want to go through Consular Processing. As I’ve explained elsewhere, getting a Fiancé Visa can be a long, frustrating process that can result in a long period of separation.

In this example, the United States citizen would have to file and Immigrant Visa Petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and a Fiancé Visa Petition.  Assuming these petitions are approved, the foreign national would have to file his own documents and attend an interview at the United States Consulate where the wedding occurred.  Again, assuming the interview goes well, the foreign national would be given a Visa to enter the United States.

This process can take at least a year to complete!

If the foreign national is already in the United States having entered with inspection, then the Marriage Petition is a desirable choice.  There are many advantages to the Marriage Petition that do not exist for the Fiancé Visa.

So, in a choice between a Fiancé Visa or Marriage Petition, more often than not it makes far more sense to choose the Marriage Petition.