If an American citizen is looking to marry a non-American citizen in Tampa and secure the non-American a Green Card, often the best way to go is the K-1 visa, or the “Fiance” visa. While a “fiance” refers to a male partner and “Fiancee” refers to a female partner, the K-1 visa can be obtained by either sex. According to the US Government, obtaining a K-1 visa will allow the non-American to travel to the US and marry their American sponsor within 90 days of receiving the visa.
The major question related to the K-1 visa is if it is necessary or not: the strict answer to this is “no.” It is possible for a couple to get married outside of the US and then file for obtaining the foreign spouse a Green Card: this is often referred to as the IR1/CR1 process.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both processes. Generally, if you are looking to live in the United States as soon as possible, the K-1 visa is the better route. Usually, K-1 visas take between 5-7 months for processing, and it is a quicker route to the Green Card. However, you have to be unmarried at the time of applying for the K-1 in order to be eligible for it: they are literal when they call it a “fiance” visa and not a “marriage” visa.
If you are already married, or for whatever reason you wish to be married outside of the US, you will have no choice but to go through the IR1/CR1 process. This is typically more expensive and can take longer, but many factors go into this, including the amount of time that you have been married.