Spouse case or fiancé case. Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, DC. In today’s video, we’re going to tackle that thorny question. If we’re thinking about getting a marriage based green card, do we go the fiancé route, or do we do the marriage based route? And this is a situations where the foreign national beneficiary is living overseas. People hear a lot of things on the internet. “Oh, Jim, fiancé cases are so much faster, let’s go that fiance route.” You may think about that, but I’ve always pushed back on that and said, “Well, the one thing is is that with fiancé cases, they oftentimes deny those at a little higher rate, and I think that marriage cases just looked stronger.”
But today’s video focuses on a recent trend we’ve been noticing at the state department, and that is them treating these on the fiancé basis as having expired. This is something that they’ve never done before. So I’ve been practicing law for about 25 years, but immigration for 15, and in those 15 years, what routinely happens is that if an embassy gets backlogged and they get behind on their fiancé cases, they just automatically extend that I-129F approval that they received from USCIS so that they can ultimately issue the fiancé visa, the K-1.
But now we’re not seeing that. Now what we’re seeing is them treating them as actually expiring and then sending them back to USCIS. This is obviously a huge problem for people, and it’s patently unfair. So we have a situation where you’ve done everything right, you’ve paid your filing fee, you’ve waited, waited, waited, gotten your fiancé case approved. It gets sent over to the embassy, and then because they’re so slow, because they’re so backlogged, that they’re treating it as expired. I don’t understand it, it’s absolutely ridiculous. And in my mind, it’s actionable. We are litigating this issue right now in the federal courts in Washington, DC. But in the short term, it really messes up our clients.
So now, if clients are coming to see me and they want to know, Jim, “Do I do the fiancé route or the marriage route?” I don’t see how in good conscience anyone can say, “Go the fiancé route.” If the state department has the unilateral ability to just say, “Oh, this case is taking too long, it is now expired.” We think that’s a real problem. So if you’re thinking about that, you really need to think through, “Well, yeah, a fiancé case might be a little bit faster.” But these days, we don’t know, and we don’t know if they’re even reliable. So if possible, we’re going to push our clients to go that marriage route. Now sometimes I know it’s going to be hard to get back to the country to actually get married so that is a consideration, but you really need to think through all these aspects of the fiancé versus spouse debate and make the best decision for you.
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