One of the biggest questions for every couple who starts the K-1 visa process is “How long will it take?” Fiancé visa processing time can vary based on the facts of your case and your locations. This article will take you step by step through the process so that you know what to expect.
The first step when you want to file a form I-129f Petition for Alien Fiancé is to begin to prepare your documents. The forms you will file should be accompanied by a rather large package of supporting documentation, and a list of what you need to gather will be given to you in your first visit with your attorney.
The list of documents you need can change depending on your individual circumstances. The time that lapses between your first attorney appointment and the date you file your petition will depend on how quickly you are able to gather the needed documents and pay the necessary fees.
Next, your petition will be filed with USCIS (
At the time of writing this article, the processing times ranged anywhere from 5.5 to 14 months. That’s a big range! Your attorney will be able to tell which processing center will get your application and give you a better idea of how long your individual application will take based on your individual circumstances.
After your petition is approved with USCIS, that agency will send the package off to the National Visa Center, which is part of the United States Department of State. The National Visa Center (or the NVC) will put the application through its own processing procedure, and they will send an email to you and your attorney requesting payment of a small fee.
Then the NVC will send your package off to the embassy or consulate in your foreign spouse’s home country. This entire process usually takes 2-4 months after your petition is approved by USCIS.
When the consular officer receives your package from the NVC, the embassy or consulate will contact you and your attorney via email or mail, depending on the country in which your foreign fiancé lives. The email or letter will give your fiancé instructions on where to go online to fill out form DS-160. The email or letter may also give instructions on how to make an appointment for the appropriate medical exams, or where to find such information.
Every embassy or consulate can be a little different, so you have to wait for this email or letter to come in order to know exactly what you will need to do to enter the United States. Once your DS-160 is filed and paid for, then you can follow the instructions to get your visa interview appointment. The time it takes to get an interview can be very lengthy and again is consulate specific. Some countries can take two weeks, some can take 9 months!
You will need to take with you to the consulate your entire K-1 package, originals of any paperwork you filed with USCIS, such as birth certificates, as well as your police clearance certificates. You must have a police clearance certificate for every country in which you have lived for six months or more while you were over the age of 16.
If you have ever been arrested in any country at any age, you will also need a certificate from that country. Each country has different agencies and different processing times for police clearance requests, and there is usually some type of fee. You should research police clearance certificate in your particular country before you file your first application so that you can time your requests.
Some consulates will give you a visa right then and there during your interview. Some will take your passport, issue the visa, and mail the documents back to you. Each embassy or consulate is different so make sure to follow the directions from your location’s website.
Once you have your visa, you will be able to make plans to travel to a port of entry, where you can meet your spouse to be and plan your wedding. Your visa will be valid for six months, so you can plan to enter the United States for up to six months after it is issued. But remember, you must marry within 90 days after you actually enter the United States.
Once married in the United States, the foreign spouse should apply to adjust status and become a US permanent resident. An application for employment authorization should be filed simultaneously. It takes about four months, sometimes longer, to get a work permit after you’ve applied.
A marriage certificate coupled with a valid K-1 approval, unexpired I-94, and visa should be enough for your foreign spouse to obtain a social security card and driver’s’ license. Make sure to do this right away after getting married!
So, how long will it take you to get your fiancé to the United States? Like any good answer from a lawyer, the response is “it depends”! If you gather your documents quickly, have a fast processing center and a country that does not have a long line of visa applicants, you could process in as little as 8 months.
That’s usually not the case, though. Your k-1 fiancé visa application will probably be more likely to take approximately 12 to 18 months, and sometimes longer. But living in a great country with the love of your life will totally be worth it!