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Hi! This is my first time posting on Visa Journey, so I’m sorry if I’m getting anything wrong. 

 

I (US citizen petitioner) have been living in the Philippines for close to two years on a tourist visa. I first came here in January 2019 and intended to stay for a month or two. Then I met my future husband, and the rest is history... 

 

If it makes a difference or if anyone is curious, I (petitioner) am female and my fiancé (beneficiary) is male. 

 

Anyways, as the title suggests, I am REALLY struggling on the decision between a K1 and CR1 visa

 

I see a lot of people warning against K1s here. In fact, I was set on sending the I-129F petition last month until I came across people suggesting spousal visas as a better alternative. 

 

I love the benefits of a CR1 visa: permanent resident status on arrival, no adjustment of status, less expensive, ability to work immediately. I prefer everything about it in general! I like the idea that most if not all of the “work” is done prior to entering the US (other than removal of conditions and eventual naturalization, of course). With a K1, it seems like the first few months and even years in the US would be stressful. 

 

Also, I do not work here in the Philippines. For all of the time that I have been here, my fiancé and I have lived off of his income (which is not a lot) and my savings. Meaning, whichever route we take, I will need a co-sponsor. (No problems in that regard. Both of my parents are able and willing.) I understand that it is not guaranteed that a co-sponsor on a fiancé visa will be accepted at the Manila embassy, whereas with a spouse visa it is not an issue. 

 

So, what possible reason do I have for not going the CR1 route? 

 

Well, in order to apply for a marriage license here, I need to go to the US Embassy in Manila and apply for a “Affidavit in Lieu of Legal Capacity to Marry.” Two problems there: 1. Domestic travel is still restricted in the Philippines. 2. The embassy has not yet re-opened for these services, and there is no saying when the embassy will open. 

 

Best case scenario is the embassy reopens for notarial services on October 1.  In which case, my fiancé and I could travel to Manila in early October (which will require securing loads of documents to authorize our travels and be a general pain in the butt!). We will likely have to quarantine upon arrival to our home province, delaying our marriage license application. Once we apply, the wait time is 10 business days. With this optimistic date (which is not based on any evidence by the way!), the earliest I could see us getting married is the end of October or more likely sometime into November. THEN, on top of that, it supposedly takes months to get the certified marriage certificate that is required to send with the I-130. I hear that the process can be expedited, in which case it could perhaps be ready 2-3 weeks after our marriage.

 

If you’ve followed my ramblings, then you would know that I wouldn’t even be able to send the I-130 petition until end of November at the EARLIEST. Sometime in December is a more realistic estimation. And, well, that sucks! Despite (thankfully!) not being separated from my fiancé, speed of arrival in the US is still a priority. That is the primary benefit of the K1 visa, for our circumstances: the ability to apply now combined with slightly faster processing (is this still true? anyone have information?) meaning faster arrival in the US. *** 

*** As I said, speed of arrival in the US is still one of our priorities. Our current living situation here in is far from ideal. My family and particularly my mom, who suffers from mental health issues, has been struggling with me living so far away. Also, my fiancé works in tourism and has not been able to work since the start of lockdown here in the Philippines. It’s looking like he won’t have any work for income for the remainder of 2020 and possibly well into 2021, which is very hard on us. (In the US, we will live with my parents who will support us, and I will be able to work.) But our number one priority is to be stay together, and we will do so for as long as we can. 

 

Now that I’ve talked (written?) your ear off, I turn to you, seasoned visa petitioners and beneficiaries! It is September, and we are ready and able to either send the I-129F petition or get married (or at least, prepare the documents to get married). And I seem to change my mind on which to do every ten minutes. Thoughts? Advice? Anything :)

Edited by Ava & Alex

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It is really a personal choice . . . But corona virus has taught us that the spousal visa are more of a priority at the consulate then the fiance.  I know we talked about doing a K1 but because we weren't planning to go to the US for a few years we got married and actually moved to Mexico.   If international travel were to re-open I would suggest getting married in Hong Kong.  It was pretty easy for us to do.

 

You should be able to get the Legal Capacity document in Cebu, once that post opens.  

 

Doing the K1 route essentially means that you have to support your husband for almost a year.   You can shorten that down by marrying quickly and someplace where you can get a marriage certificate immediately.   Then you would be looking at a 6 to 8 month wait.  International travel would also be restricted during that time.

 

In either case you would need to re-establish domicile or show that you will be back in the US with him.  And you would need a joint or co-sponsor if you do not have US income / Assets for support.

 

K1 costs are going up significantly in October if he wants an EAD and or AP before the green card.  Green cards are taking a year or two for a K1 from the time of arrival.  

 

Based on all of the backlogs I doubt that a K1 will really be much faster in the end.

 

Now something to consider is the possibility of using the Direct Consular Filing with exceptional circumstances to move things along.  You would need to be married and have an exceptional circumstance such as needing to move back to the US for a job.  You might want to research that.  You now have to ask the immigrant visa unit at the Manila consulate to accept it otherwise they will refer you to the stateside filing address.

 

The spousal visa is definitely less stressful that a K1, especially when trying to adjust in the US.  My asawa didn't need to work when she came to the US.  I got her "socialized"!  She got involved in a couple sports leagues with Filipinas.  She was the only one that could work, drive, and travel internationally.  She made many friends in that group very quickly (I think here friends gave us enough food for 3 months since she drove them around.)  Unfortunately a few ended up going back to the Philippines or divorcing later because of all the delays and their unhappiness.

 

Nothing is moving very quickly now especially in the Philippines.   Ask a bunch of questions here and also in the Philippines Regional forum.   It is very active.

 

In almost all cases the US Citizen and the beneficiary are separated - and often for a long period of time.  We kinda lucked into our situation and were only apart for about a month.


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Paul. 
 

3 hours ago, Paul & Mary said:

But corona virus has taught us that the spousal visa are more of a priority at the consulate then the fiance.

I have heard this, and is certainly something we are taking into consideration! I’m wondering what it actually means in practice? I know some embassies initially only re-opened to spousal visas and not fiancé visas, but I’m not aware of anything beyond that or of the Manila embassy prioritizing spousal visas in any way. 

 

3 hours ago, Paul & Mary said:

Doing the K1 route essentially means that you have to support your husband for almost a year.   You can shorten that down by marrying quickly and someplace where you can get a marriage certificate immediately.   Then you would be looking at a 6 to 8 month wait.  International travel would also be restricted during that time.

This isn’t a big problem for us; what I am more concerned about is my fiancé feeling isolated, stuck, etc. while living in a new country, not having any of his family or friends, and not being able to work. We have discussed activities and such that he (and we) can participate in while waiting for his EAD, which he is so excited for. I imagine he will handle the transition quite well, but I suppose you never know! 

 

3 hours ago, Paul & Mary said:

Green cards are taking a year or two for a K1 from the time of arrival.  

Two years really? I have mentally prepared myself for the one year wait, but two...yikes. 

 

3 hours ago, Paul & Mary said:

Now something to consider is the possibility of using the Direct Consular Filing with exceptional circumstances to move things along.  You would need to be married and have an exceptional circumstance such as needing to move back to the US for a job.  You might want to research that.  You now have to ask the immigrant visa unit at the Manila consulate to accept it otherwise they will refer you to the stateside filing address.

I have heard of this and am very interested! I would love to try, but I’m not sure our case falls under any exceptional circumstances. Did you do DCF

Edited by Ava & Alex

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2 hours ago, Ava & Alex said:

Two years really? I have mentally prepared myself for the one year wait, but two...yikes. 

Counting from the time of entry to getting the card.   It depends on the field office involved an if an interview is needed.  Don't wait 90 days to marry and marry someplace you get the marriage certificate right away and that will save 4 months.  If you consider the time for a spousal and getting a green card is ends up being faster and cheaper.

 

2 hours ago, Ava & Alex said:

I have heard this, and is certainly something we are taking into consideration! I’m wondering what it actually means in practice? I know some embassies initially only re-opened to spousal visas and not fiancé visas, but I’m not aware of anything beyond that or of the Manila embassy prioritizing spousal visas in any way. 

Both continued being processed stateside.  Spousal visas are considered mission critical and only few consulates are taking a limited number of k1 interview at the moment.

 

 

2 hours ago, Ava & Alex said:

I have heard of this and am very interested! I would love to try, but I’m not sure our case falls under any exceptional circumstances. Did you do DCF

Yes we did.   We were in the last year it was offered via an USCIS field office.   Ours took 103 days from filing to appoval. 


March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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1 hour ago, Paul & Mary said:

Yes we did.   We were in the last year it was offered via an USCIS field office.   Ours took 103 days from filing to appoval. 

That is wonderful! Thank you for reminding me of the the DCF filing option. I have since gone into serious internet research mode. I’m so excited about this possibility I haven’t been able to sleep! Is it too good to be true? 
 

I’m aware that USCIS field offices are closed and/or no longer processing visas. However, given that I am residing in the Philippines, it is my understanding that I only need to prove an exceptional circumstance (most likely relocation for a job offer) in order to file with the Manila embassy. (And, of course, get married first!) Am I getting my hopes up? Is this harder to qualify for than it seems? 

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7 hours ago, Ava & Alex said:

I know some embassies initially only re-opened to spousal visas and not fiancé visas, but I’m not aware of anything beyond that or of the Manila embassy prioritizing spousal visas in any way.

 

Check out the visa issuance statistics to get a sense of how USEM is prioritizing spouse visas.  Taking July figures for example, assuming stable demand for visas, there has been >80% drop in the number of K1 visas issued by USEM from last year, while for CR1/IR1 the decrease is only about 20% --

 

July 2019:  668 K1, 91 CR1, 109 IR1

July 2020:  111 K1, 76 CR1, 84 IR1

 

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-statistics.html

 

It's anyone's guess how the backlog will affect the timeline for K1 visas out of USEM next year.  There's no guarantee that your fiance will get to the US faster than if you marry here (or in Hong Kong) and go for CR1 instead.

 

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5 hours ago, Chancy said:

Check out the visa issuance statistics to get a sense of how USEM is prioritizing spouse visas.  Taking July figures for example, assuming stable demand for visas, there has been >80% drop in the number of K1 visas issued by USEM from last year, while for CR1/IR1 the decrease is only about 20% --

 

July 2019:  668 K1, 91 CR1, 109 IR1

July 2020:  111 K1, 76 CR1, 84 IR1

 

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-statistics.html

 

It's anyone's guess how the backlog will affect the timeline for K1 visas out of USEM next year.  There's no guarantee that your fiance will get to the US faster than if you marry here (or in Hong Kong) and go for CR1 instead.

 

Wow! Thank you for that information. 
 

There must be a huge backload of K1s. Speed of arrival in the US is really the only reason we would choose K1 over CR1, and it’s looking like that is far from guaranteed now. Definitely leaning towards CR1... :) 

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First, good comments from the other postings.  I am also from Minnesota so a welcome on the process.
We did the CR1 and experienced the bumps along the way, as a person we always wants things to go faster.  Looking back, we feel lucky that we were pre- COVID for leaving on our VISA.
As mentioned there is backlogs and waiting patiently will be needed. But the day does comes for travel.  I recommend CR1 for the reasons that you stated.  Also, I did my "Affidavit in Lieu of Legal Capacity to Marry" at the Cebu Consular if it is closer. https://ph.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/citizenship-services/consular-agency-cebu/

Cheers.

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39 minutes ago, DennisMN said:

Also, I did my "Affidavit in Lieu of Legal Capacity to Marry" at the Cebu Consular if it is closer. https://ph.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/citizenship-services/consular-agency-cebu/

OP is on Luzon.

 

Just so she knows if she goes to Manila, the "Affidavit" is issued by the American Citizen's Services and they are open with appointments.    I personally have spent a lot of time at the Cebu Consulate and everyone there is great to work with!   

Edited by Paul & Mary

March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

April 30, 2018  Mary moves from the Philippines to Mexico, Husband has MX Permanent Residency

June 13, 2018 Mary receives Mexican Residency Card

June 15, 2018  I-130 DCF Appointment in Juarez  -  June 18, 2018  Approval E-Mail

August 2, 2018 Case Complete At Consulate

September 25, 2018 Interview in CDJ and Approved!

October 7, 2018 In the USA

October 27, 2018 Green Card received 

October 29, 2018 Applied for Social Security Card - November 5, 2018 Social Security Card received

November 6th, 2018 State ID Card Received, Applied for Global Entry - Feb 8,2019 Approved.

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6 hours ago, DennisMN said:

I am also from Minnesota so a welcome on the process.

Thanks! :) 

 

While I have you here, can I ask if you have any advice on expediting the issuance of the PSA marriage certificate? 
 

From what I’ve read, we plan to ask the local civil registrar to immediately register with PSA, get in touch with PSA, and then go there directly after a week or two to get the marriage certificate. 

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23 minutes ago, Ava & Alex said:

Thanks! :) 

 

While I have you here, can I ask if you have any advice on expediting the issuance of the PSA marriage certificate? 
 

From what I’ve read, we plan to ask the local civil registrar to immediately register with PSA, get in touch with PSA, and then go there directly after a week or two to get the marriage certificate. 

 

Here's what we did. Right after the ceremony (we got married civilly):

 

1. We went to the local civil registry office with the signed certificates and requested to have the PSA reporting expedited. I filled out a form and paid a minimal fee (I think this is only for the courier). We were given a stub with the date (about a month later) to go to the main PSA office in Quezon City.

2. Went to the PSA main office on the date indicated on my stub. Filled out a form, queued for verification, got verification, and was asked to pay for the documents (again minimal). At the cashier, they had the date posted on their window of when the documents were going to be available if you applied on that day (at that time, it was 2 weeks from that date). The date was also indicated on the receipt, which needed to be presented upon pick up. I requested for 2 original copies.

3. Two weeks later, I had our driver pick up the documents on the date indicated on the receipt. He carried with him the receipt, authorization letter signed by my husband and me, and our IDs.

 

The total time from marriage to PSA certificate: a month and a half.

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