K-1 Fiancée or B-2 Tourist Visa: Navigating Your Path to Life in the US

A K-1 Fiancée or B-2 Tourist Visa is what most people consider the primary visa option when planning to reunite with their US citizen fiancé(e). Choosing between these two visas can be overwhelming since these are both nonimmigrant visas that allow you to travel to the United States and remain there for a specific period. 

First, your US citizen fiancé should be willing (and able!) to sponsor you. In contrast, you can apply for a B visa yourself.

Second, each option has strict eligibility criteria and requires rigorous scrutiny from US government agencies during the application process.

Third, you must meet eligibility requirements unique to each visa. For example, when applying for a B visa, you must provide evidence of a compelling reason for returning to your home country. With a K-1 visa, on the other hand, immigration regulations state that you must return to your country of nationality if you do not marry your US citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.

In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision.

The US Immigration and Nationality Act has a provision for the K-1 Fiancee Visa.

Section 1184(d) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act enshrines the 90-day rule. The countdown of the 90-day toll starts from the date the US Customs and Border Patrol admits you into the US. It is the second of a three-step K-1 visa process.

The first stage is for your US citizen partner to file an I-129F petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once USCIS approves the petition, the agency forwards your case to the National Visa Center, which then routes it to the specific US Embassy or consular post abroad—the second stage.

The third stage is applying for adjustment of status concurrently filed with an I-130 petition by the same US citizen who filed the I-129F sponsorship.

Below are the processing times for I-129F petitions of various US service centers for March 2024:

  • California, Nebraska Service Centers: 14 months
  • Potomac Service Center: 14.5 months
  • Texas Service Center: 15 months
  • Vermont Service Center: 11 months

Follow this link to learn more about the US K-1 Visa.

Reasons a K-1 Visa May be the Better Option

  • Path to Marriage: The K-1 visa is more appropriate if you intend to marry within 90 days of admission.
  • Green Card Eligibility: After marriage, you can apply for permanent residency (green card) within the US, streamlining the immigration process.
  • Work Authorization: Once married, you can apply for work authorization while waiting for the USCIS to process your green card.

Why Some Don’t Apply for a K-1 Visa

  • Marriage Requirement: If you aren’t 100% sure about marrying your partner, you must return to your home country. You may face deportation if the wedding ceremony is canceled.
  • Complex Timeline: While the K-1 visa facilitates marriage in the US, the subsequent green card application process can be lengthy and complex.

B-2 Tourist Visa: for Temporary Visits

The B-2 tourist visa is for short visits, usually less than six months. It is the most common and popular nonimmigrant visa, often bundled with a B-1 visa for temporary business visitors.

In 2013, the US admitted 48,346,018 B-2 visa holders (Yearbook of Statistics 2022) compared to only 29,773 K-1 visa admissions.

In January 2024, the US Department of State released the following number of nonimmigrant visas to people applying in the Philippines:

Nonimmigrant Visa CategoryNumber Issued
B-1 Temporary Business Visitor 271
B-1/B-213,399
B-2 Tourist2
K-1 Fiancé(e)773
Number of Tourist and Fiancé(e) Visas Issued by the Manila Office for January 2024

According to the US Yearbook of Statistics, 48,346,018 B-2 visa holders were admitted to the United States in 2013, compared to only 29,773 K-1 visa admissions. 

In 2022, the number of B-2 visa holders admitted tapered to 34,945,932; the number of K-1 visa holders admitted declined to 25,679.

The across-the-board decrease in nonimmigrant and immigrant categories was mainly due to the pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of appointments at US Embassies and consular posts abroad,

Most intending visitors apply for the B-1/B-2 variant, allowing the visa holder to visit the US for business (B-1) or tourism (B-2).

So, if you wish to visit the US and have the financial resources and permanent ties in your country of nationality, then a B-2 visa would be your better option.

A B-2 Tourist Visa May be the Better Option in Some Cases.

  • Flexibility: The B-2 visa allows you to visit the US for short-term stays. If you’d like to explore the country without immediate plans for marriage, consider applying as a tourist first.
  • Shorter Application Time: In the Philippines, the State Department’s processing page shows the current wait time for a consular interview or appointment at 56 days. However, you get the decision on your application right after your consular interview. If your application is approved, you wait up to two weeks for the embassy’s courier service to deliver your passport with the visa stamp.
  • Ease of Application: The tourist visa application process is less complex than other visa types despite the waiting time for a consular appointment in some countries, such as the Philippines.
  • Multiple Entries: Your B-2 visa allows you to enter and exit the United States numerous times during its validity.

On the Other Hand, Applying for a B-2 visa May Not Be the Best Decision.

  • Marriage Not Allowed: A consul can refuse your application for a B-2 visa to marry a US citizen. Getting married in the US signals your clear intention to stay permanently. Remember, B-2 visa holders are required to return from a temporary visit.
  • The interviewing consul or USCIS may charge you with misrepresentation. For a successful tourist visa application, you must show proof of sufficient funds and demonstrate a genuine intent to return to your home country. Even if you pass the scrutiny of a consular officer during the visa application, a USCIS officer at the port of entry may still discover your plan to marry, resulting in the cancellation of your B-2 visa and being put on the first plane back home.

Assuming the intent to marry was not disclosed or discussed during the port of entry interview, your application for permanent residency after marriage could still be refused for non-disclosure of such intent. You should know that misrepresentation is an immigration offense that could result in a permanent bar, preventing you from entering the US again as a B-2 or K-1 visa holder.  

Of course, you may apply for a waiver, but that is another story.

  • Limited Stay: B-2 visas have a limited authorized stay, typically six months or less. Extensions may be possible but are not guaranteed.
  • Perilous Path to Residency: A B-2 visa provides a complex maze of applications to adjust your immigration status from temporary to permanent residency. At each stage, the requirement to return vs. an intent to stay will be under investigation, with each procedure requiring evidence of having complied with the conditions before the next step.  

Due to the requirements, we recommend hiring an immigration lawyer for your USCIS application.

Choosing the Right Visa Option for You.

The ideal visa option depends on your specific situation and goals. Here’s a quick guide if you are still considering whether to apply for a K-1 fiancé or B-2 tourist visa.

Choose the K-1 Visa if:

  • You plan to marry in the US within 90 days.
  • You aim to obtain permanent residency in the US.

Choose the B-2 Visa if:

  • You want a temporary visit for tourism or other permitted activities.
  • You plan to marry outside the US.
  • You still need to figure out your relationship.

Consider all factors before deciding.

Remember to carefully consider your and your partner’s goals and resources when choosing the best visa path to build your future in the US.

There are severe immigration consequences if you violate the terms of your B-2 visa, so be careful! Take note of the following:

  • Working on a B-2 visa, enrolling full-time in studies, and overstaying beyond the time permitted could give you problems later. In particular, it is not wise to get a tourist visa to the US, thinking you can find a job and stay there.
  • Though a foreign national who entered the US as a tourist might qualify to receive work authorization, these situations are rare.

CONTACT us if you need help deciding whether to apply for a K-1 fiancé or B-2 tourist visa.

For immediate visa or immigration concerns, call or TEXT us using the numbers below during our business hours Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM.

  • 0917 529 8472
  • 0998 978 8472
  • (02) 5310 0228

References you may want to read:
“Processing Times.” USCIS Case Processing Times, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/. Accessed 13 Mar. 2024.

“Visa Statistics.” Travel, US Department of State, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-statistics.html. Accessed 15 Mar. 2024.

“8 USC 1184: Admission of Nonimmigrants.” OLRC Home, Office of the Law Revision Counsel, https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title8-section1184&num=0&edition=prelim. Accessed 14 Mar. 2024.

“Adjustment of Status | USCIS.” USCIS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 27 Dec. 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/adjustment-of-status#:~:text=Adjustment%20of%20status%20is%20the,country%20to%20complete%20visa%20processing.

“Visa Appointment Wait Times.” Travel, US Department of State, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html. Accessed 13 Mar. 2024.

“Visas for Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens | USCIS.” USCIS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 23 Mar. 2018, https://www.uscis.gov/family/family-of-us-citizens/visas-for-fiancees-of-us-citizens.

“Visitor Visa.” Travel.State.Gov, U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visitor.html. Accessed 12 Mar. 2024.