Immigration Articles

“Which Kind of Visa Should I Get for My Family Member?”

Visa Choices (with some Pluses & Minuses)

This visa permits the Fiancee of a U.S. Citizen to enter the U.S. for one visit up to 90 days. The purpose is to allow the couple to continue the relationship with the intention of marriage within the U.S. Current processing time can range from 6 to 10 months in standard cases. Plus – The big plus is that it allows a couple with a “serious intention to marry” to “get to know each other better” before getting married. Widely considered simpler, cleaner and more sure method of securing a visa for most couples. Permits the Fiancee to lawfully work during her visa stay. Minus – Allows only one entry into the U.S., for a maximum of 90 days. Requires a follow-up immigration petition after marriage for adjustment of status to U.S. lawful residency.

The visa permits the foreign spouse of a U.S. Citizen who lawfully married in a foreign country to enter the U.S. with a 24-month lawful resident visa and “Green Card”, which includes travel and work permission. Requires a valid foreign marriage and a sincere marriage relationship, with supporting documentation. Processing time can range from 7 to 10 months, or longer. Plus – Allows more rights and privileges than a Fiancee Visa, and longer-lasting. Minus – Requires a valid, local marriage outside the USA first. After 24 months, a follow-up immigration petition is required to change status to a permanent lawful residency.

This visa permits a foreign visitor to enter the U.S. on multiple visits, with each visit limited to 6 months or less. Intended strictly for tourism only — to tourist locations and visiting family or friends. Plus – Issued for 5 to 10 years, and allows multiple individual entries into the USA. Easily applied for online at the U.S. Embassy website. Minus – Widely considered a difficult visa to secure for the vast majority of applicants. Requires the applicant to show strong financial ties to their home country to qualify. Caution – This visa is NOT intended for marriage, courtship with a fiancé(e), or employment. If used that way, legal complications can result.

This visa permits a student who has been admitted to an immigration-approved school or university to enter the U.S. for usually one year. This visa requires applying for and gaining academic admission first, and then pre-paying at least some tuition. Processing time can range from 6 to 8 months. Plus – Allows qualified, talented students from around the world to benefit from many fine U.S. colleges and universities. Most school admission offices have a counselor to help secure the visa. Minus – Not intended for marriage or courtship in U.S., general tourism or employment.

This visa permits a foreign employee who has been hired by U.S. employer to enter the country for a year or longer. Requires that the employee first have been hired at the “prevailing wage” based on special qualifications or experience. The employer must also show that they first searched for a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Resident for the job, and then sponsor the employee by filing a petition. Processing time can take up to a year. Plus – Allows qualified, experienced foreign workers and many excellent U.S. employers to mutually benefit from an employment relationship, thus advancing the U.S. economy. Minus – Limited by annual quota (yearly numerical limit). Not intended for marriage or courtship in U.S., or general tourism.

*OTHER TYPES OF VISAS: (Special Ability, Exchange Visitor, Investor etc.)
There are various other types of visas for special purposes. These visas can take 6 to 12 months to process and are intended for very specific purposes — NOT for marriage or courtship in U.S., general tourism, employment or sponsoring a family member.