Moving from an engagement to a wedding already comes with a built-in time crunch, so those with immigrant finacés are even more concerned with time. The K-1 visa timeline includes processing times for the I-129F, DS-160, and possibly the I-485. We’ll go over each form and step and ensure you don’t make the K-1 processing time longer than it needs to be.
Fiance Visa Timeline: How Long Does it Take to Get a Fiancé(e) Visa?
The K-1 processing time can take more than a year from beginning to end. That’s because the approval time for the I-129F by itself takes roughly five to 9 to 12 months. Premium processing is not available for the K-1 visa petition.
Did you receive the K-1 visa? At this point, the foreign fiancé(e) can enter the U.S., and must get married within 90 days 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 by filing Form DS-160. Following that, the government requires a visa interview for the foreign fiance at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their country. Expect the consular officer to ask in-depth questions to determine the relationship’s legitimacy. The period between filing the DS-160 to getting the visa interview can range from three to five months.
If you do not get married in the 90-day window, the foreign fiancé(e) must leave the United States. If they stay, they will violate immigration laws and could face removal or deportation.
K-1 Processing Times and Steps
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-129F Processing Time: Approximately 9-12 Months
The U.S. citizen K-1 sponsor will begin by filing the I-129F form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The citizen must submit the form along with all required supporting documents. USCIS uses I-129F 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 notify the petitioner if they need additional information and documentation to process the petition.
As of March 2022, the receipt of notice and adjudication of the I-129F form takes around 5-9.5 months. However, it could be longer, especially if applicants don’t file their petition correctly or certain missing items. Therefore, it is best to pay attention to details when filing the form so you can avoid unnecessary delays.
To check the most up-to-date I-129F processing time, visit the USCIS processing time website. Next, search for the I-129F under “Forms” and the California Service Center under “Field Office or Service Center.” From there, scroll to the bottom, and you’ll find the estimated wait time next to “K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiancé(e) and/or dependent child.”
If the USCIS finds you eligible for sponsoring the visa, the I-129F form will be approved. Then, USCIS will forward the approved I-129F petition 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
If your fiancé resides outside the U.S., 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 they can apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa there. In addition, 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 their nonimmigrant visa appointments, which include a medical exam and visa interview. The letter will also contain the items needed to schedule and take to the appointments and visa interview. After notification, the foreign fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and attend the interview as scheduled with all the required documents.
K-1 Visa Timeline 2022 – Interview: 3 Months or more
The visa interview can be the most nerve-wracking part of the K-1 processing time. The wait time between the appointment scheduling and the visa interview will depend on the workload at the embassy or consulate. Embassies and consulates are shooting to schedule interviews within three months, but the pandemic creates less certainty. The important thing is to be at the interview location at the scheduled date and time. Only the foreign fiancé can attend the interview. 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 decides that the foreign fiancé(e) qualifies for the visa, then the K-1 nonimmigrant visa will be granted. Once the government approves the visa, the foreign fiancé(e) can prepare 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, valid for six months. This means the foreign fiancé(e) can travel to the U.S. with the approved visa at any time within six months. However, it is essential 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. A Customs and Border Protection officer will decide whether to admit the foreign fiancé(e) or otherwise at the airport or border.
Marriage: Within 90 Days After Arrival
If all things go well and the U.S. admits the foreign national, 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 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, 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 Visa Process Time?
While premium processing service is unavailable for the K-1 visa, there are specific 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. The sponsor and beneficiary must legally dissolve all previous marriages. 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 application stage. Therefore, 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), adequate evidence of a bona fide relationship. In addition, you can prove the authenticity of your relationship by providing proof of time spent together such as photos, travels records such as boarding passes or bus tickets in places visited together, etc.
Work With a VisaNation Law Group Immigration Attorney
It would be best to work with an experienced K-1 visa immigration attorney from the beginning to the end of the application process. Your immigration lawyer will help you prepare your case following the USCIS standard and guide you throughout the process.
- An experienced K-1 visa lawyer will explain the process and how to expedite the K-1 processing time 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
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. You can find the specifics 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 is essentially an agreement to share the K-1 beneficiary’s financial support responsibility.
Both K-1 and K-2 visa holders can file for employment authorization documents. Still, 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 applicants include them 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 an immigrant living overseas, 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 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 can legally get married and intend 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. The attorney will need to include a written statement of intention to move forward with the marriage in the package.
It’s important to note that marriage fraud carries strict penalties. USCIS officers can identify a bona fide relationship from one out of convenience or a means of deception for citizenship.
NVC Processing Time
You can find the status of your case by logging into the State Department’s website.
K-1 Visa Background
Fiancé(e) visas are issued to the fiancé(e) of a citizen to enter into the country and subsequently get married. To establish this classification, the U.S. citizen in the relationship must file an I-129F 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 Visa Process Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a fiance visa take?
As of March 2022, K-1 visa processing took approximately 9 to 12 months (USCIS time to process Form I-129F). Click here to see exact ranges based on your service center. In addition to that, it takes between three to four weeks to receive notice from the National Visa Center with further instructions.
What is the K-1 visa fee?
The fee for the I-129F is $535, and that is due to USCIS. After that form is approved, the U.S. citizen’s fiance will have to undergo a medical exam, and that can generally be anywhere from $50- $300 (prices may vary based on provider). The fee for the DS-160 K-1 visa application is $265. If additional people plan to travel with the fiance on the K visa, they must pay a separate fee and apply. For instance, if the alien fiance has one minor child coming with them to the U.S. on a K-2 visa, an additional $265 would apply. Additional lawyer fees are also applicable if you enlist the service of one.
How long is the I-129F petition valid for after approval by USCIS?
It is valid for four months from the date of approval.
What should I do after being issued a K-1 visa?
Congratulations! You will receive your passport with the K-1 visa in it from the Consular Officer in a sealed envelope along with other documents you provided. Keep this packet unopened – the DHS official will open it when you enter the United States. You are eligible for a single admission at a U.S. port-of-entry during the validity period of the visa (6 months from issuance). In addition, you must get married to the U.S. citizen partner within 90 of coming to the United States.
Do children have to accompany the foreign fiance on the first trip?
Minors of the foreign fiance partner can either accompany them the first time to the U.S. or follow-to-join (come later), but it must be within the validity period of their K-2 visa. “Separate petitions are not required if the children accompany or follow to join you within one year from the date of issuance of your K-1 visa. If they want to travel later than one year from the date your K-1 visa was issued, they will not be eligible to receive K-2 visas, and separate immigrant visa petitions will be required.”
Do my children need to file separately for their adjustment of status?
Yes, because you should not include them in your Adjustment of Status application.
Can I apply for my Green Card and Social Security Number at the same time?
In the past, you could not, but this changed in August 2021. With the new process, after USCIS approves your I-485, they will electronically send your information directly to the Social Security Administration to process your number. *The fee for filing Form I-485 will not change.
How VisaNation Law Group Immigration Lawyers Can Help
Have additional questions regarding K-1 processing time or bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States? Working with an experienced immigration attorney will not only likely expedite the process but will significantly reduce the chances of having your application denied. This is where we can be of help.
VisaNation Law Group K-1 visa lawyers have helped many people file and acquire their fiancé(e) visas. They will help you prepare your application, including submitting your affidavit of support, letter of intent to marry, and necessary supporting documents according to the USCIS requirements. In addition, you can count on us to help you and your fiancé(e) live together in the U.S. You can schedule a consultation with one of their K-1 visa experts today by filling out this contact form.