Hi Russ: my name is ***** ***** I will be the immigration attorney helping you today.
Which way is better really depends on you guys and where you want to get married, how much you want to spend on the process, and how long you are willing to wait. With the fiance visa, it will take a little less time but it costs more and you two will have to marry within 90 days of her entering the US with her visa. The other option is the CR-1 immigrant visa. For that you have to be married already before you can apply for that. This one usually takes a little more time but it's less expensive and requires a few less steps.
Here are the differences between both:
A) K-1 fiance visa takes about 6 to 10 months (right now a little longer on the longer side) for the foreign spouse to enter the US after you apply. You would qualify because you are supposed to have met once in the last 2 years and have proof of it and it sounds like you will have this. You will submit the I-129F to start the process and that will cost $340 plus a $350 fee for the visa processing fee at the US embassy. Again, It will take about 6-9 months for the foreigner to get the interview over in Ukraine. After she gets approved hopefully, she will enter the U.S., then you have to marry here within 90 days of entering and then you have to pay $1070 for the I-485 application after marriage which is for her actual green card. She will be called in for another interview here that you attend with your new spouse in about 5-6 months.
B) If you decide to get married first then she would qualify for the The CR-1 visa. This one takes about 9 months to 1 year before she is allowed into the US after sending the application. To begin You will submit an I-130 for her.The fees are $420 for the I-130 and $400 and $120 for the visa processing fee and for an Affidavit of Support fee. The good thing is that once she is approved and she enters the US, she will already be a permanent resident and doesn't have to apply for the I-485 or for anything else. That means you don't pay the $1070 that I mentioned in option A. She will just receive the green card in the mail a few weeks later.
I know immigration issues sometimes seem complicated and confusing. If at any time you would like to have a more detailed consultation by phone or if you need help with application preparation or review, I can send you an offer for this legal service to you for a reasonable fee later on. You don't have to decide if you would like that now, but just letting you know it's an affordable option for you to keep in mind.
Good luck to you during this process and I hope this answer has helped you!
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