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I am a US citizen, my wife is a Mexican citizen. We got married in Mexico and have a marriage certificate. We have been hearing different ideas from different people. Some say to do a tourist visa and take care of the immigration stuff while she is up here "touring" for 6 months or whatever the time period may be. Others say to get a spouse visa, but that it takes longer but the immigration process is taken care of alongside it.

We have been dating for almost 5 years and have been married for about a month. I am currently stateside working, and she is working a part time job in Mexico City. In all honesty I just want to get her up here ASAP, but also want her to get her citizenship stuff taken care of as well. I own a house in the States and that is where we will be living and raising our family.

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Getting an CR-1 immigrant visa (what you call spouse visa) is the correct way. You file I-130 and then after it's approved, she goes through Consular Processing at the U.S. consulate in Mexico.

If she has an H or L work visa, she could still go to the U.S. on one of those visas (since they are dual-intent) and then do Adjustment of Status in the U.S. But I doubt that's the case here.

Any other non-immigrant visa she can get, she will need to not intend to immigrate during that trip when she enters the U.S. with it. But she obviously already has intent to immigrate on it if you're asking this question. So she would be committing visa fraud if she tried to enter on it for this purpose.

(Some places you will see information about the K-3 visa. That visa is basically obsolete. To get it, you will still file an I-130 petition like you do for an immigrant visa, and then, afterwards, you file an I-129F petition. But the I-129F and I-130 take the same amount of time to process currently, so the I-129F petition will not be approved before the I-130 in most cases. And once the I-130 is approved, the K-3 process ends because it's only meant for when I-130 is pending. So you will not get a K-3 visa and the I-129F would have been a waste of money.)

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I would not recommend going the tourist visa route. Doing that would be misrepresenting your actual circumstances, and would involve withholding relevant information from immigration officials (the fact that your wife is married to a US citizen).

The correct way to do this is to apply for a K-3 Nonimmigrant Visa for a Spouse, which is described as follows:

This visa category is intended to shorten the physical separation between the foreign-citizen and U.S. citizen spouses by having the option to obtain a nonimmigrant K-3 visa overseas and enter the United States to await approval of the immigrant visa petition.

After entering the US, your wife can apply for adjustment of status to permanent resident (green card).

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    The K-3 is obsolete. If you apply for it, it will be a waste of money and you will not get it, because the I-130 petition will be approved before or at the same time as the I-129F petition, and they will close the I-129F petition. – user102008 Jan 12 '15 at 21:24
  • @user102008: So it's not obsolete officially, it's just obsolete in practice? – Greg Hewgill Jan 12 '15 at 21:36
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    Yes, due to the fact that I-130 processing for spouses of citizens is not super slow. – user102008 Jan 12 '15 at 22:13

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