Fiancé Visa VS. Spousal Visa – which one to choose?


K1_Fiancee_Visa_I dedicate this post to all the couples who have difficulties with obtaining a Fiancée Visa in USA, as well as to all my clients who frequently ask me, “What is the best way to bring my beloved one here? Is it better to marry overseas and bring my Russian lady using a spousal visa, or is a K1 Fiancée visa the only good choice?

Well, first I would like to make it clear that there are ONLY two real choices, a Fiancée or Spousal Visa. If you are thinking of bringing your lady here to America using a tourist, student or working visa, you will only waste your time, energy and money! There are actually two problems with this idea. First, even if somehow miraculously your Russian lady receives a tourist/visitor visa (B-1 visitor visa) and come here as a tourist with the secret intention of staying in the United States for an indefinite time, you both will have committed visa fraud! Visitor visas, or indeed any temporary visas, are for people who intend to stay temporarily – and then leave. They are not for people who plan to marry and live happily ever after in the United States. If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly called “INS”) chooses to make an issue of it, your misuse of a tourist visa could lead to your losing the right to obtain a marriage-based green card and most other types of U.S. Visas. It’s really a dangerous and bad idea to try to out-smart the USCIS, and that’s why we recommend that our clients be patient and play by rules from the very beginning to the end.

So, let’s compare the Fiancée and Spousal Visa.

(using cooperated materials with the kind permission of Mr. Fred Wahl, “Visa Coach” at

A. The proof that you have a “bone fide” relationship is the same.

B. A Spousal Visa takes approximately 6 to 9 months longer than a typical Fiancée Visa.

C. Paperwork: – Fiancée Visa: 2 document submissions. – Spousal Visa: 3 document submissions.

D. Minimum Annual Income Eligibility: – Fiancée Visa: $15,730. – Spousal Visa: $19,662.

K-1 Fiancée Visa

Pro: You can apply as soon as you have met ‘face to face’

Con: If your income is below the minimum and you need a joint-sponsor, check with the consulate first because some consulates DO NOT permit using the help of a financial joint-sponsor.

CR1 Spousal Visa 

Pro: Green card is included, saving about $ 800 in fees.

Pro: If you do not meet the financial annual income eligibility, the use of a financial joint-sponsor is always allowed.

Pro: Her family attends wedding

Con: You must marry first before submitting.

Con: Takes about 6-9 months longer

Con: Three sets of documents to prepare.

The majority of couples choose to apply for a Fiancée visa because the Fiancée Visa is slightly simpler, faster to obtain and the couple can apply immediately after meeting face to face. Also, they do not have to wait in order to organize the complicated formalities of a wedding in a foreign country. Spousal visas take longer to process, but at the end of the day a Spousal Visa costs about $800 less in government fees. The green card is approved during the slower CR-1 process.

If you already decided to get married in Ukraine, read the instructions bellow. I have asked some of our couples who married Ukraine for their input, and have also researched the Internet for the most up-to-date information. Hopefully this will help…

So, if you are already in Ukraine, I advise you to go to the main RAGS (loosely translated as the civil registrar’s office) of that particular town and ask them what they need in terms of documents. The reason for this advice is because in many cases the list of documents given by your embassy website will not be good enough. Also, documents may differ from RAGS to RAGS. This is quite typical of Ukraine. Every little authority makes up their own rules to feel more important or powerful. 🙂 However, if you are not yet in Ukraine, it’s a good idea to ask your fiancée to go to RAGS and inquire about the necessary paperwork.

According to what I have researched here, in order to marry a Ukrainian citizen, a U.S. citizen should follow these step-by-step instructions:

If you have been married before, please make sure that you have the original divorce decree or death certificate properly authenticated in the U.S. Since Ukraine acceded to the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of local Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, the U.S. documents destined for use in Ukraine should be certified by one of the officials in the jurisdiction in which the document has been executed. Said official must have been designated as competent to issue certifications by apostille (usually in the office of the State Secretary of State of his/her counterpart).

Fill out a Letter of Non-Impediment to Marriage (“marriage letter”) at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. This form (in English and Ukrainian) contains basic information, and is a sworn statement that you are not currently married. It must be signed only in the presence of a Consular Officer and, as for a notaries service, there is a fee of $30. At the same time you can obtain the forms and instructions necessary for filing an immigration petition with the Embassy or at your local USCIS office in the U.S.

Authenticate the “Letter”at the Legalization Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Obtain a certified translation of the data page of your passport, any annulment decrees, divorce decrees or death certificates of your former spouse(s) (if you were previously married), and the letter of non-impediment to marriage.

To arrange for your marriage take all the documents including your original passport (with a translation), the authenticated original death or divorce decree (if any) (with translation), and the authenticated Letter of Non-Impediment to Marriage, with translation to RAGS  in the hometown of your fiancé (e).

As always, we would like to wish for you that this whole process will proceed quickly and with a successful, very happy and loving conclusion.


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