Applications for foreign fiancée visas have been steadily increasing for the past few years. In the globalist modern age, it seems that more and more American citizens are finding love in places outside of their native country. In fact, since 1998, the number of fiancé visas issued to foreign nationals in the United States has tripled. With social media and online matchmaking sites reaching the furthest corners of the world, it is no surprise that people are increasingly finding partners outside of their native country. This upsurge in marriages between citizens and immigrants means that it is now more important than ever to examine the complex policies governing fiancée and marriage visas for immigrants to the United States.
Where Is All The Demand For Fiancé Visas Coming From?
At this point, you may be wondering about the source of this rise in fiancé visas. Where location is concerned, there is one country that is far ahead of the rest in terms of the number of visas issued to its nationals. According to data from the U.S. Department of State, nearly 20% of foreign fiancé visas were issued to natives of the Philippines. To put this figure into perspective, in 2016, 6,926 visas went to citizens from the Philippines pursuing a U.S. marriage compared to a mere 1,900 to natives of the Dominican Republic, the second-place country on the list. This lead is increased further with consideration to eligible family members travelling with the partner. Under the current policy, if the fiancée has any children under the age of 21, they are also eligible to travel to the U.S. as derivatives on a K-2 visa. According to the 2016 data, over 24% of eligible minors immigrating in this manner are from the Philippines.
What Is The Difference Between A Marriage And Fiancé Visa?
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding between bringing your intended spouse overseas through a marriage or fiancé visa. Personal factors like timing and desired wedding location will necessarily play a major role in this decision. For example, some couples might desire their wedding to take place in their native country, scenario which is conducive to the marriage visa. Others, however, may not be ready to tie the knot just yet for personal or financial reasons. In such a case, the fiancé visa might be preferable, since it gives them additional time to work out the details of the wedding. A potential compromise for couples that wish to obtain a marriage visa but still prefer to hold a wedding ceremony in the U.S. might be to have a small wedding ceremony in their native country, and having a larger celebration after immigrating for friends and family to attend. However, some couples do not have the luxury of choosing based on preference and just want to choose the most cost-efficient option to get their fiancé to the United States and begin their lives as a family. Fortunately, there are several options available that help to alleviate the financial burden on couples in this situation.
Is It Necessary To Travel Prior To obtaining A Visa?
When it comes to travel costs for the two visas, marriage and fiancé visas are largely the same. Both visas require the non-U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. consulate in their home country to complete an interview. While there is no formal requirement that the non-U.S. citizen partner travels to the U.S. ahead of immigration, the couple must meet in person at least once within the two years preceding the filing for the fiancé visa. Some couples do qualify for an exception to this rule in the case of extenuating circumstances.
What About The Medical Exam Requirement?
The requirement for medical exams can be both a financial and physical burden on a couple looking to obtain a visa. These visas do necessitate a medical exam to be completed in the home country of the immigrant spouse. This cost burden is somewhat amplified by the fact that only certain doctors are certified to complete these exams, eliminating some freedom of choice in the decision. In the case of the fiancé visa, a second exam will be conducted upon the immigrant partner’s arrival in the United States and subsequent marriage. A common issue that arises in this case is that some part of the medical exam or vaccination record was not completed properly by the original physician conducting the exam. In this case, the partner will have to undergo additional exams in the United States to avoid forfeiting their permanent residency status.
Navigating Ever-Changing Government Fees
When considering the cost of government fees, it is important to keep in mind that standards are constantly changing, and it may be a good idea to keep watch over the official USCIS list of filing fees ahead of applying for either visa. That being said, fees from early 2019 give an advantage to the marriage visa in terms of cost. According to the USCIS, filing fees for the K-1 fiancé visas paid directly to the U.S. government totaled in at approximately $2,025. If you choose to get married prior to the process and apply for an immigrant visa, government fees are significantly reduced, totaling in at $1,200. It is important to keep in mind that any eligible children will also need to file, adding to the total cost in application fees.
Generally speaking, getting married prior to immigration is the most cost-efficient option for couples concerned about the fees associated with immigration. In addition to the points cited above, there is an option for low income families applying for the marriage-based visa to add a U.S. citizen as a sponsor to their claim if they do not meet the income requirements associated with applying for the visa. The bottom line comes down to the preference of the couple, when and where they want to get married, and how much money they are able to spend to facilitate it.
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