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Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Old Dec 9th 2021, 2:21 am
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Question Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Hi guys,

I'll jump straight in. Myself and my same-sex partner have been in a long-distance relationship for getting on for 5 years. That whole time we have been using the VWP and followed the rules religiously, obviously with corresponding impact on our relationship. The years of pandemic-enforced separation was almost the end of us, but we managed to survive and i am currently visiting him in America for the first time in almost 2 years.

Since arriving, more news about this new covid variant has been coming out, new policies are being enforced all the time, We have been talking, and we're both agreed that we will not be able to cope with any more enforced separation should that happen, and thus we have both agreed marriage is likely the only option to secure our relationship/a life together at this juncture.

As mentioned, i am currently in the states, and am using my ESTA to do so. I am aware that it is technically possible to marry and file to adjust status while here if we wish. However neither of us are sure if that is the best approach and would prefer not to move me here via a legal grey area, if possible. We have also obviously discussed the K1 and CR1 visa avenues. An immigration attorney we have consulted/will be retaining has spoken in favour of the K1 visa due to the fact that according to him, CR1 apparently has larger delays at present compared to K1.

The options we have narrowed down between ourselves and with the attorney are the following:
  1. Marry while i'm in the USA on VWP - adjust status immediately.
  2. Marry either in USA on VWP, or in the UK - apply via CR1 from the UK
  3. Apply for K1 visa from the UK, follow that process to the end.
I am especially interested in hearing anyone who has input with regards to differing wait times for the above options. Have tried to look up processing times on the USCIS website but it was firing out wrong/out of date results at time of writing, and refused to give processing times at all for K1 visas. Attorney is saying K1 is faster than CR1 and implied it was due to "The situation in the middle-east" (Afghanistan) but a lot of people on here seem to think CR1 is faster? Some clarity would be appreciated.

Am also not sure whether i could apply for advance parole if we went with the ESTA option. This marriage wasn't pre-planned so i'd need to be able to go home and arrange to ship my stuff/get my affairs in order. Worst nightmare would be to marry, apply to adjust status, and then be denied re-entry to the USA after going through all of it.

I wish to note with regards to the ESTA option, I am aware that many people try to game the system this way. Just to nip the "it's fraud" responses in the bud: I am fully aware it would be fraud if i arrived with immigrant intent. I however, did not. I have taken legal advice on this and our attorney has been clear that it would be entirely legal and legitimate for me to marry/adjust status via that method precisely because we did not consider marriage until several days after i entered the US.

Thanks for your time, everyone!

Last edited by Legerity; Dec 9th 2021 at 2:24 am.
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 5:25 am
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

K1 seems to be taking the same time as CR1 and has many issues so I would knock K1 on the head.

If you need to go back can you wait for AP to process?

It is more complicated marrying in the UK.
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 5:53 am
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
K1 seems to be taking the same time as CR1 and has many issues so I would knock K1 on the head.

If you need to go back can you wait for AP to process?

It is more complicated marrying in the UK.
Would you be able to share some of the issues you mentioned other than the wait time? I guess the sheer amount of paperwork could be a good reason but we’ll be using an attorney to smooth that over anyway.

We were kind of hoping on K1 to give me credibility while continuing to use the VWP in the interim. I’m already starting to get told off because my passport is almost entirely US VWP stamps.

The idea is if questions were asked, I can point to the visa application as proof I’m doing everything above board/won’t overstay my ESTA.

We ideally want to have time to plan for a proper wedding/give me time to pack up my UK affairs so if we waited to do that then CR1, that application wouldn’t even go in for several more months-a year, and then the same clock starts as for K1 except several months delayed.

I kinda figure I might be one of the few cases where the K1 process could be ideal.
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 5:58 am
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Many people have issues with not being able to work, travel, drive, even getting health insurance, after choosing the K1 Takes longer in total, costs more.
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 11:06 am
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Forget adjusting status. It's fraught with potential danger.

Forget the K1, since you won't be able to work when arriving, and is not really quicker.

My advice? Get married now, apply for the CR1, and return to the UK when your ESTA visit is up. It's the correct way, the legal way, and the cheapest way.

You can always have a larger celebration later when the immigration stuff is squared away.
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 1:53 pm
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

You have consulted with an immigration attorney. It is his/her advice that you should be following. All 3 options are viable. Yes, there are some 'potential' dangers with the marriage and remain to adjust status but your attorney is the one that can assist you in navigating through the pitfalls. One option I would not do is the K-1. The CR-1 is almost the same timeline as the K-1 and has several added advantages over the K-1, i.e. entering with the visa gives you permanent resident status immediately. the right to work from day one, the right to travel outside of the US and return without advance parole, timeline for naturalization starts immediately upon entry.
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 10:09 pm
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
You have consulted with an immigration attorney. It is his/her advice that you should be following. All 3 options are viable. Yes, there are some 'potential' dangers with the marriage and remain to adjust status but your attorney is the one that can assist you in navigating through the pitfalls. One option I would not do is the K-1. The CR-1 is almost the same timeline as the K-1 and has several added advantages over the K-1, i.e. entering with the visa gives you permanent resident status immediately. the right to work from day one, the right to travel outside of the US and return without advance parole, timeline for naturalization starts immediately upon entry.
Out of idle curiosity, I just checked the CIS processing times for the California Service Center. As of today, the Minions of the dark forces sate that I-129f processing is substantially quicker than I-130 processing. Interesting, to say the least. Of course, who is to say that government resources won’t be shifted to the I-130 cubicles n Laguna Nigel while pending I-129f’s will gather dust for a while?
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Old Dec 9th 2021, 10:33 pm
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Default Re: Current best options? (K1, CR1, ESTA)

I am a retired immigration lawyer. My standard retainer agreement was intended to speak in everyday language. One paragraph stated:

“Client acknowledges that there are circumstances over which Attorney has no control and may affect the case. This includes (but is not limited to) changes in the law, changes in government personnel or policies, world events, backlogs, etc. … Accordingly, Attorney has not made any warranties or guarantees relative to the outcome of the above matters. Client agrees that the fees charged are related to the time, effort and skill that Attorney will apply to the above described matters and does not depend upon achieving a particular result.”

This paragraph was the result of experience - in my situation, the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, an event which screwed up the immigration system no end.

The attorney has apparently laid out the alternative ways of proceeding and the risks therein. (BTW, most cases have one or no way to proceed. Three alternatives is kind of nice. But I digress). It is a judgement call, and it is up to you and your beloved.

Last edited by S Folinsky; Dec 9th 2021 at 11:59 pm.
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