Many hopeful United States Immigrants and their significant others are forced to decide to pursue immigration status through two different methods: the fiancé(e) petition and the spousal petition. This can be a very difficult decision as both methods wrought with pros and cons galore.
You, like many other frustrated hopeful immigrants or their lovers, might be baffled at our current immigration system and unsure of which method is right for you. This article will discuss the various positive and negative aspects of each type of immigration petition. If, after reading this article, you are left still with a vague picture of your immigration options, I highly recommend consulting with an Immigration attorney who will be able to advise you specifically.
Fiance(e) Petition (I-129F)
Fiance(e) petitions can be filed by US Citizens only. That being said, there are various requirements that one must meet in order to be eligible to file for a fiancée. The one difficult one for many is that the Petitioner must have met (been physically present) with the Beneficiary (fiancé(e) abroad) within 2 years of the Petition’s filing date. This visit must be documented with an abundance of evidence. Once the petition (I-129F) is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, it will be forwarded to the US Embassy nearest to the beneficiary’s home. The beneficiary will then need to attend an interview with the General Consul.
Fiance(e) Petitions are touted as a faster way of bringing a partner to the United States. Petitions can take from 5-8 months from start to finish. Once the fiancé(e) arrives in the United States, he or she must get marry the Petitioner within 90 days of landing, and must subsequently apply for permanent residence.
Pros and Cons
-Only US Citizens are eligible to take advantage of the Fiance(e) Petition (Legal Permanent Residents are not)
-The filing fees are more expensive for Fiance(e) Petitions- $455 initially, plus $1,010.00 to adjust status once in the US, versus $825 for a Spousal Petition
-Fiance(e) Petitions require more evidence of a bona-fide relationship and Interviewers seem to be more capricious
+Partners need not rush their marriage to be eligible to petition, but can get married in the United States (within 90 days)
+Petitions are processed relatively quickly
Spousal Petition (I-130)
US Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents are allowed to file Spousal Petitions for their wives or husbands. Immigrant visas are immediately available for US Citizens’ spouses, but the immigrant visas for Legal Permanent Residents are not (check out uscis.gov under Processing Dates- currently the USCIS is still processing the Spousal Petitions by LPRs filed in 2005).
The I-130 Immigrant Petition must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and once it is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for processing. The National Visa Center will then request information about the beneficiary of the immigrant petition (the immigrant spouse) before forwarding the petition to the US Embassy where an Interview will be scheduled.
Pros and Cons
-Processing takes longer- for US Citizens can take up to a year, for Permanent Residents takes around 3 years
-Partners must be married before the Petition can be filed- this most likely means the US Citizen will have to travel outside of the US to marry his or her partner
-Spouses must live separately while waiting for their immigrant petition to process
+Spousal Petition Fees are less expensive than the Fiance(e) Petitions- Fees are $825 total, versus $1,465.00 for Fiancee Visa
+Once the immigrant spouse arrives in the United States, he or she is automatically a legal permanent resident and need not adjust status. The spouse visa immigration lawyer will provide information about all the legal procedures to the person after the arrival. It will be convenient to the spouse to adjust in the other country.
+Interview is not quite as capricious as the Fiance(e) Visa Interview, however cases are still decided upon discretion of the Consul
I hope this breakdown of the pros and cons has assisted you in choosing which method of immigration is better suited to your circumstances. If you are still unsure if you are eligible for these petitions, please check the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website at uscis.gov. There are also various other Immigration forums online that may lend you some guidance. Immigration attorneys are the best resource however, and many offer cheap or free first consultations and advice.