What petition to file: Fiancee or Spouse of US Citizen?

Fiancee petition is faster from filing to visa issuance. Spouse petition is less expensive although it takes just about the same time or just a little bit longer, based on cases filed by the Immigrant Visa Center for clients that iVC represents.  And  this, even if both petitions are not subject to quota or numerical limits.

So, if the cost of being together faster is not an issue, filing the I-129F Fiancee visa petition is the logical choice based on official processing times.

As the May 19, 2013 processing times from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services show, Fiancee petitions filed on July 18, 2012 are soon to be forwarded to the National Visa Center after approval.

I-129F

Petition for Alien Fiance(e)

K-1/K-2 - Not yet married - fiance and/or dependent child

July 18, 2012

I-129F

Petition for Alien Fiance(e)

K-3/K-4 - Already married - spouse and/or dependent child

July 18, 2012

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative

Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21

September 3, 2011

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative

U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21

January 19, 2010

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative

Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21

October 4, 2010

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative

U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21

June 19, 2010

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative

U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister

February 11, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, the petition for a spouse of a US citizen takes about the same time from filing to approval (6-8 months) but visas are immediately available since spouses of US Citizens are not subject to quota.  

What are the reasons for the delay or longer processing?

The Fiancee visa petition (filed on Form I-129F) is a unique visa.  While technically it is a nonimmigrant (and therefore, temporary) K visa, applicants in this category are treated like immigrant visa applicants, eligible for waivers or forgiveness even if the Fiancee has committed certain US immigration law violations in the past, such as fraud or overstaying.The K3/K4 visas are no longer being used as the processing times for the spouse of a US citizen has improved from the time the K3 visa was created sometime after 1998 under the Family Unity Act.

Verification of the bona fides or genuineness of relationship is closely scrutinized because of internet dating sites, in fact even some visa consultancies actively advertising services to US citizens by either directly linking them with “Filipina or Filipino friends, wishing to meet an American citizen.” A few “visa consultancies” even hire people to distribute leaflets -“Fiancee visa and Dating services” in the Mabini district, a traditional place for expatriates to stay in because of the existence of hotels, motels close to entertainment places such as videoke bars with GROs.

Since the US citizen and Filipino prospective fiancée must first meet, some visa consultancies arrange for the meeting, pick up from the airport, hotel and travel accommodations, interpreters and other services which are - for all intent and purposes- arranged relationships not entirely different from international marriage brokerage services.

Verifying the international marriage broker, checking its history for potential marriage by convenience cases, mail order brides (which is prohibited under Philippine laws) as well as the prior history of violence of a US citizen petitioner (domestic, sexual, child abuse, human trafficking) contribute to the delay.

Also the US Citizen fiancée’s ability to support the Filipino fiancée would be checked, and if the petitioner does not have sufficient income, the visa application could be denied.  Unlike the spouse petition, the US citizen cannot get a joint or co-sponsor if the petitioner is not employed or does not have financial ability to sponsor the Filipino fiancée.

I-130 Spouse Petition

The spouse petition also has its share of verification timeline and could contribute to the delay.

If the spouse petition is filed almost immediately (e.g., less than 3 months after having met in person) the sponsor and Filipino spouse must provide incontrovertible, valid and verifiable evidence of genuine relationship.

However, if the US citizen spouse does not have sufficient income, he or she could still get a joint or co-sponsor so that the Filipino spouse would not be denied for reasons of being a potential public charge (or burden to the US government).

Filing Procedures and Fees

Fiancee Petition: filed on Form I-129F, US$340 fee and supporting documents to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox Facility (USCIS,  P.O. Box 660151, Dallas, TX 75266 or if sending by express mail or courier, then to USCIS, Attn. I-129F, 2501 S State Hwy, 121 Business Ste 400, Lewisville, TX 75067. 

After approval, the file is sent to the NVC/US Embassy where the Filipino fiancée applies for the Fiancee (K) Visa and pay the visa fee.  

The K-3 is no longer used or applied for.  The K-3 visa was created Upon admission, the fiancée and the US citizen must get married within 90 days, otherwise the Flipino fiancée could be deported or removed.  After marriage, the Filipino spouse applies for permanent residency by submitting the application for adjustment of status. (lawful permanent residence) and employment authorization.

The green card to the Filipino spouse is usually issued after the final interview during the adjustment of status application process.

Spouse Petition: filed on Form I-130, $420 fee with the specific Chicago Lockbox Utility depending on which US state the petitioner has residence . After approval, the file is sent to the National Visa Center for documentation, processing and payment of visa fees. Then the file is forwarded to the US Embassy (consular post) – Manila, for Filipino applicants.

The spouse is given an immigrant visa and does not need to file permission to work or apply for a green card. The green card is mailed within 3-4 weeks of arrival.

Forms, Fees, Procedures, Requirements

Spouse Petition

Fiancee Petition

Form Used

I-130

I-129F

Personal Meeting Requirement

(May be waived for I-129F)

Yes

Yes

Filing Fee with USCIS

$420

$340.

National Visa Center – Visa Fee

$230

0

National Visa Center-Affidavit of Support

$80

0

Immigrant Visa Fee (At US Embassy)

None

$240

Green card processing fee before departure

$165

0

Filing I-130 after marriage for Fiancee

0

$420

Adjustment of Status to get Green Card

0

$1,070

Permit to Work

0

$465

Petition to Remove Conditional Status

If petition is filed within 2 years of marriage

 

$590

 

$590

 

TOTAL FEES

 

$1,485.00

 

$3,125.00

 

For the latest consular processing guidelines if you intend to or have filed either a Fiancee or Spouse petition, you may call the Immigrant Visa Center at +632-634-8717 or +63917-534-8472.

Got a question? Let us know - we're here to help.


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