Most individuals in the process of obtaining a fiancé(e) visa frequently wonder about K-1 processing times. In general K-1 processing times can range anywhere from six to twelvemonths, depending on the complexity of the case as well as other information requested by USCIS.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Fiancé(e) Visa
From beginning to end, the K-1 visa process will take between six to nine months. That’s because the approval time for the I-129F by itself takes roughly five months. Premium processing is not available for the K-1 visa petition.
Has the K-1 visa been issued? At this point, the foreign fiancé(e) is able to enter the U.S. and has 90 days from the point of arrival to get married to the U.S. sponsor. From there the foreign-born spouse can prepare for an adjustment of status to permanently work and live in the country.
If for whatever reason you do not get married in the 90-day window, the foreign fiancé(e) must leave the United States. If they stay, they will be in violation of immigration laws and could face removal or deportation.
K-1 Visa Background
Fiancé(e) visas are issued to the fiancé(e) of a citizen in order for them to enter into the country and subsequently get married. In order to establish this classification, the U.S. citizen in the relationship must file an I-129 Petition for Relative or Fiancé(e) with USCIS. Afterward, the U.S. citizen will need to fill out and submit biographic information (Form G-325A) and submit proof of citizenship as well as proof that you’ve seen each other in the last two years. Examples include boarding passes, photos of you and your fiancé(e) together, copies of phone records, letters, emails, etc. Remember that all supporting documents must be in English or translated to English.
The fiancé(e) visa petition once approved is sent to the National Visa Center, then the American embassy or consulate where the non-citizen fiancé(e) can then apply.
K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Application: Steps and Processing Times
The following are different stages of the K-1 fiancé(e) visa process and the estimated time range for each of the steps involved:
I-129 Petition Processing Time: Approximately 5-7 Months
The U.S. citizen K-1 sponsor will begin the process by filing the I-129F form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form must be submitted along with all required supporting documents. I-129F form is used to establish the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the foreign fiancé(e).
Within two to three weeks of submitting the form, the USCIS will send the petitioner (U.S. citizen) notice of receipt to confirm that it has received the petition. The USCIS will review the form and may also notify the petitioner if they need additional information and documentation to process the petition.
Both the receipt of notice and adjudication of the I-129F form takes around 5-7 months. However, it could be longer, especially if the petition is not filed correctly or there are certain missing items. It is best to pay attention to details when filing the form so you can avoid unnecessary delays.
If the USCIS is convinced of your eligibility for sponsoring the visa, the I-129F form will be approved. The approved I-129F petition will then be forwarded to the Department of State (DOS) National Visa Center (NVC) for the next step.
DOS Takes Over Processing: 4 to 6 Weeks After USCIS Approval
The NVC will continue the process by forwarding the approved I-129F to the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country where the foreign fiancé(e) resides so he or she can apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa there. The foreign fiancé(e) will need to submit the DS-160 form and pay the consular processing fees.
Letter From Embassy or Consulate: Approximately 2 Weeks After Receiving the Case
The U.S. embassy or consulate will then send a letter indicating how the foreign fiancé(e) will schedule his or her nonimmigrant visa appointments, which include a medical exam and visa interview. The letter will also contain the list of items needed to schedule the appointments as well as those to be taken to the visa interview. The foreign fiancé(e), after receiving the notification, will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and attend the interview as scheduled with all the required documents.
K-1 Visa Interview: 2 to 8 Weeks After Scheduling Appointments
The wait time between the appointment scheduling and the visa interview will depend on the workload at the embassy or consulate. The important thing is to be at the interview location at the scheduled date and time. The interview is to be attended only by the foreign fiancé(e). The U.S. citizen is not required to be present at the visa interview. Here is a complete guide on what to expect at a K-1 visa interview.
If after the visa interview, the consular officer is convinced that the foreign fiancé(e) qualifies for the visa, then the K-1 nonimmigrant visa will be granted. Once the visa has been approved, the foreign fiancé(e) can then start preparing to travel to the U.S.
Inspection at a Port of Entry: Within 6 Months After Visa Approval
The K-1 is a single entry visa and it is valid for 6 months. This means the foreign fiancé(e) can travel to the U.S. with the approved visa any time within the six-month period. However, it is important to know that the approved visa doesn’t automatically guarantee entry. The foreign fiancé(e) will still have to seek admission at the port of entry. At the airport or border, a Customs and Border Protection officer will run decide whether to admit the foreign fiancé(e) or otherwise.
Marriage: Within 90 Days After Arrival
If all things go well and the foreign national is admitted into the United States, the two of you should get married within 90 days. After the wedding, the U.S. citizen can file an I-485 form for adjustment of status (AOS) for the foreign spouse. With the AOS application, the foreign spouse will also be able to request work and travel permit documents so as to work legally and travel in and out of the U.S. while the green card petition is pending. If the USCIS approves the AOS petition, then the foreign national will receive a green card and become a permanent resident in the U.S.
Is There a Way to Expedite the K-1 Processing Time?
While premium processing service is unavailable for the K-1 visa, there are certain steps to take if you want to get your visa approved without any delays. The following tips will not only expedite the process but will also significantly reduce the chances of your K-1 visa application denial:
Ensure You Are Both Eligible to Marry Each Other
The two of you must be legally eligible to marry in the United States. This means you both are at the legal age to marry, which is at least 18 years old. Also, there must be proof that neither of you is currently in a valid marriage to another person. If either or both of you have been married before, the previous marriage(s) must have been legally dissolved. This will require documents like death, divorce, annulment records.
Provide All Necessary Supporting Documents
The K-1 visa involves several petition forms and documents at each stage of the application. Crucial supporting evidence must be well-prepared and submitted accordingly. They include a letter of intent to marry, sufficient proof of financial ability to support the foreign fiancé(e), sufficient proof of a bona fide relationship. You can prove the authenticity of your relationship by providing evidence of time spent together such as photos, travels records such as boarding passes or bus tickets in places visited together, etc.
Work With an Immigration Attorney
It is recommended that you work with an experienced K-1 visa immigration attorney from the beginning to the end of the application process. Best immigration lawyer will help you prepare your case in accordance with the USCIS standard and guide you throughout the process.
An experienced K-1 visa lawyer will be able to further explain the process and how to expedite K-1 processing times if possible.
Our attorneys understand how stressful the process can be for obtaining a K-1 fiancé(e) visa and will do everything in our power to ease the burden.
Financial Requirements for the K-1 Visa
In order to bring a fiancé(e) to the U.S., you must demonstrate that you can support your fiancé(e) at 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The specifics can be found on Form I-865P. If you cannot meet these criteria, your other option is to have a relative or friend agree to be the joint sponsor. This essentially is an agreement to share the responsibility for the K-1 beneficiary’s financial support.
Both K-1 and K-2 visa holders can file for employment authorization documents but if they file the application before filing the Adjustment of Status, then the EAD will expire concurrently with the K-1 visa. For that reason, you should apply afterward.
Family Members of K-1 Beneficiary
Unmarried children (under 21) of K-1 beneficiaries can receive K-2 nonimmigrant status from their parents as long as they are included in the petition. Assuming they accompany their parent, a separate petition is not required.
Difference Between Marriage and Fiancé(e) Visa
If you are already married to the immigrant living overseas than you need to consider the marriage visa option. This process can take several months for an i-130 approval and an additional year for an approved immigrant visa. Notice that these processes are in fact very different so you cannot apply for a fiancé(e) visa if you are already married. An immigration attorney can better explain your options if you’re in this situation.
Extend Your K-1 Visa Beyond Four Months
Only a consular officer can revalidate your K-1 visa past the initial four months as long as there is sufficient proof that both parties are able to legally get married and intent to within 90 days of the beneficiary’s admission. If you’re interested in extending your K-1 visa it’s best to seek the aid of a qualified immigration attorney who can send the written request to the Embassy. In the package, the attorney will need to include a written statement of intention to move forward with the marriage.
It’s important to note that marriage fraud carries strict penalties and should be avoided at all costs. USCIS officers are trained to identify a bona fide relationship from one that is out of convenience or a means of deception for citizenship.