If you are a United States citizen, your fiancé is living abroad, and you’d like to bring them to the United States, generally speaking, you have two options. (The third option, the K-3 visa, is beyond the scope of this article).

The first option is to petition for your fiancé to come to the United States on a fiancé visa; in this scenario, your fiancé would enter on a visa, and you would marry once they were here. The second option is to marry abroad and petition for that person as your spouse.

Each process has its pros and cons which are outlined below. Before making your decision check the processing times for the I-129F (fiancé visa application) and the I-130 (petition for alien relative) to see how long each application is taking. If one is taking a lot longer than the other, that may help you make your decision.

Fiancé Visa Process

With a fiancé visa you would file form I-129F for your fiancé; once that is approved your fiancé would apply for a K-1 visa at a consulate abroad. Once the visa is issued, your fiancé enters the United States with the K-1 visa, and you have 90 days to marry. Once you are married, your spouse files for ‘adjustment of status’ on form I-485. The filing fee (as of writing) costs are: I-129F ($535), DS-160 ($265), and I-485 ($1,225), for a total of $2025.


  • Some people would prefer to marry in the United States; this would facilitate that wish.
  • The K-1 visa will typically get your spouse/fiancé to the United States faster than the spousal consular processing path. (Although total time, start to finish, is slightly longer with the K-1 visa).
  • A portion of this process will be done while your fiancé is in the United States after they enter on the K-1. Therefore, you’ll be with your fiancé/spouse for part of the process.
  • K-1 fiancés can work while in the United States upon filing their I-485, adjustment of status.
  • If you cannot marry abroad (example: same-sex couples), then the fiancé visa may be your only option.


  • Can only be used by fiancés of United States Citizens. If you are a lawful permanent resident, then you’ll have to do spousal consular processing.
  • You must have met your fiancé in person within the past two years.
  • More expensive than spousal consular processing.
  • The entire process takes more time than spousal consular processing, although your fiancé would be in the United States with you for a portion of that time.

Spousal Consular Processing (Immigrant Visa)

If you were to marry abroad, then your spouse would consular process. You will file form I-130 on their behalf; once that is approved, your spouse will file form DS-260, application for permanent residency, and that application will be processed through a consulate abroad. Once their residency is approved, they would enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

Through this process, you would not have to file any additional paperwork in the United States (except for the Immigrant Fee), as they’ve entered the country as a lawful permanent resident. The filing fee costs (as of writing) are: I-130 ($535), DS-260 ($325), the Affidavit of Support ($120), and the Immigrant Fee ($220) for a total of $1,200.


  • This process is cheaper than the K-1 visa.
  • The entire process, start to finish is typically faster than the K-1 visa route.
  • Open to both US citizens and lawful permanent residents.
  • If you would like to marry outside of the United States, then this process is for you.


  • The process is conducted wholly outside of the United States.
  • The time before your spouse enters the United States is longer than the fiancé visa.

If you would like information about petitioning for a spouse or fiancé, please contact an Oakland immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in family-based immigration cases. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help! Your initial evaluation is free!