Marriage

Contemplating Living in the US after a Marriage to a US Citizen? Possible Paths to US Permanent Residence for a Foreign National Spouse

A personal life change like marriage effects foreign nationals who live and work in the US, on temporary visas. Marriage to a US citizen can create a need for (or opportunity to) obtain permanent residence in the US.

Type of Visa Path Best for those Living… Costly government fees?* Can Travel In & Out of US Easily? Marry First?
Fiancé Visa (K-1 visa) and Adjustment of Status Beneficiary Abroad & Petitioner (US Citizen) in US Yes, government fees: $2025

  • $535, I-129F
  • $265, embassy fees
  • $1225, I-485/biometrics
No, can enter US on a K-1 visa only one time. Can leave and enter possibly on a non-immigrant visa, if it allows intent to stay permanently in the US (e.g., L, H, TN, not B!) No
Marry, file I-130, then come here “Soon” on a K-3 visa and Adjust Status Beneficiary Abroad & Petitioner (US Citizen) in US Yes, government fees: $2085

  • $535, I-130
  • no fee, I-129F
  • $325, embassy fees
  • $1225 I-485/biometrics
Yes, even after the I-485 is filed. Note: overstay of a previous visa make an applicant ineligible for a K-3 without a waiver. Yes
Adjustment of Status (concurrent filing of I-130 & I-485 with the USCIS). No embassy interview. Both Beneficiary & Petitioner (US Citizen) in US Yes, government fees: $1760

  • $535, I-130
  • $1225, I-485/biometrics
No, it commonly takes 2-2 1/2 months after any entry to the US on a non-immigrant intent visa to make a decision to stay permanently. Need to wait 3 more months in the US for travel permission after filing I-485. Yes
Immigrant Visa from US Embassy (file I-130 in US or at US Embassy)  Interview at US Embassy only. Beneficiary, mostly abroad, & Petitioner (US citizen) resident abroad but headed to US soon Least expensive government fees: $1080

  • $535, I-130
  • $325, embassy fees, including Affidavit of Support (I-864)
  • $220, USCIS Immigrant Fee
Yes, on a temporary visa (e.g., B or TN) or Visa Waiver Program. Yes

* Government filing fees as of September 8, 2017, subject to change by the US government. Marriage visa fiance visa chart by immigration lawyer Melissa@chavinimmigration.com.

This chart is for general use in discussions with an immigration attorney on common paths to US permanent residence for a foreign national who is considering marrying or who has married a US citizen. It takes into consideration only some of the factors that lead to a decision on how to or whether to obtain a US “green card.” It should not be taken as legal advice of any kind for a particular purpose or individual.

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