Filing for a K1 fiance visa represents an exciting step in your relationship. It’s natural to want the process to go as quickly as possible in order to begin the rest of your lives together. In most cases, however, approval takes between six and nine months from start to finish, barring any potential delays. While some of these delays can be avoided, acquiring the assistance of a Northern Virginia immigration law firm can help prevent some of the most common reasons for delay during this process.
Fiance Visa Processing Timeline
The fiance visa timeline can vary on a case to case basis and there is no definitive time that every fiance visa will be processed. Having said that, here is brief description of each step and an estimate of how long each step usually takes.
Filing Receipt and Approval
After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department receives your initial application, you will receive a notification of receipt within one to three weeks. Approval of the application will typically take another five to seven months. At this time, USCIS will review all of your paperwork and may make requests for additional information to be submitted, if necessary. This is the longest stage of the application process, and each subsequent phase typically moves much more quickly.
Moving to the National Visa Center
Your application will move to processing at the National Visa Center, which typically takes about two to three weeks. Here, you will receive a case number and be asked to submit more paperwork. This includes payment of fees, scheduling an embassy interview, scheduling a medical exam, and collecting financial documents. You will then be able to finalize your non-immigrant visa application and continue moving forward in the visa application process.
Moving to the U.S. Embassy
Once the National Visa Center phase is complete, your case will move to the local U.S. embassy. This stage typically takes one to three months. It includes the fiance visa interview, which is used to establish that your relationship is a real one and not set up solely for the purposes of obtaining a green card. You will be asked about your relationship history, your wedding plans, and your fiance. Applicants will also be asked to provide photos, phone bills, correspondence, and other documents that show they are in a true relationship. The embassy phase requires the submission of medical records and financial documents showing that you are in good health and financially stable.
Fiance Visa Finalization
Finally, your visa will be ready and in-hand within two to 10 days after the embassy process is completed. You will receive a sealed immigration package, which contains important immigration documents and will be opened by a customs officer when you enter the U.S. Opening this package before that point will jeopardize your ability to enter the U.S. You will also receive a visa in the form of a sticker in your passport.
This visa is valid for six months after it is placed in the passport. You may enter the U.S. at any point within that six month period, and your marriage must take place within 90 days of entering the country.
Common Causes for Delay With The Fiance Visa
This timeline represents a best-case scenario estimate. Several factors may cause a delay in processing your case. In some instances, the country in which your fiance lives may be experiencing a higher embassy workload, local conflicts, and other circumstances outside of your control that may delay the application.
RFE / Additional Information
Your application may also be delayed due to requests for additional information. If your application is assembled by a reputable immigration attorney, the likelihood of this delay decreases significantly. Requests for information can delay your application for weeks, depending on how quickly you can compile the additional paperwork. A high-quality application will get approved more quickly that one that is lacking in information.
Sudden Policy Changes
USCIS typically experiences increased workloads after the announcement of changes in immigration policies or processes. This may cause people who were waiting to submit an application to turn them in right away, and the influx of new work can delay applications, even if they were submitted before the new policies were announced.
The department may also experience a rise in applications due to unexpected circumstances occurring in various countries, so there is no ideal time to submit one.
Failing To Meet Financial Requirements
Finally, all applicants for a K1 visa must meet a minimum income requirement, as demonstrated by tax returns and pay stubs. Failing to meet this requirement can cause your application to be denied entirely. If you do not meet the financial requirements, you may ask a family member or friend to co-sponsor your application, which can prevent delays and allow your application to continue being processed.
Speak With The Immigration Attorneys At Johnson & Masumi
Contact Johnson & Masumi for more information about the K1 visa, the fiance visa timeline or how to begin your application. The firm provides free consultations to help you understand the process and create a personalized plan based on your individual needs. Johnson & Masumi specializes in immigration law, including fiance visas, student visas, and work visas; green cards; family cases; and deportation proceedings.