Being in a relationship with someone who lives in a different country has its challenges. When you are finally ready to marry and live together, you will need to go through the proper channels to obtain a green card. Many couples in this position apply for a K1 visa. A K-1 visa is typically issued to the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States. There are certain strings that come with a K-1 visa, such as the requirement to marry within 90 days of entering the U.S on the K-1 visa. The K-1 visa timeline can vary so it is important to be aware of what you can possibly expect.
Filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé
The first step in the K1 visa process is to file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The petition that is filed is Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance, and this petition is filed by the U.S. citizen fiance.
Receiving Form I-797Cc, Notice of Action
Soon after submitting the petition, you will receive a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, which confirms that USCIS has received the petition. This typically occurs within two to four weeks after filing the petition. If the petition was not filed properly, USCIS will send a Notice of Rejection, and will request for deficiencies in the petition to be addressed. USCIS also has the authority to deny a petition if all of the initially required evidence is not submitted.
After you receive the I-797C, you may also receive a Request for Evidence. USCIS may request that you provide additional information to aid them in deciding your petition, so you must, sure to quickly gather the additional documents and send them to USCIS as soon as possible to prevent a longer delay. The Request for Evidence typically has a deadline associated with it, so it is important to meet this deadline.
I-129 F Processing Time
Once your petition has been successfully received and filed by USCIS, it is a waiting game. Form I-129 is designed to determine whether a U.S. citizen petitioner can establish that they are in an an authentic relationship with their fiance abroad. USCIS will process your case at a local service center and upon approval, will mail the U.S. citizen a I-797, Notice of Action, which will notify the U.S. citizen petitioner of the approval. This part of the process typically takes between 5 to 8 months from the date of filing.
Moving the Case to the U.S. Department of State
The next step of the process occurs when USCIS transfers the case to the U.S. Department of State. The case will be looked over by the National Visa Center (NVC), who may contact the foreign fiance, who is known as the beneficiary, to submit a visa application (DS-160) or to request certain documents. The NVC will also request payment for consular fees.
Receiving an Embassy Letter
After receiving and processing the case, a letter from the embassy will be received by the foreign fiance. This letter will provide instructions for how to schedule the required medical exam and interview. The embassy letter may also contain a list of items that must be submitted, as well as documents that the foreign beneficiary will need to bring to the in-person interview.
Conducting the K-1 Visa Interview
The K-1 visa interview will generally be held about two to eight weeks after you have submitted the embassy documents. Only the foreign fiancé will attend this interview at a designated U.S. embassy or consulate. The only other people who can attend are any children who will also join as K-2 visa holders. The U.S. citizen is not required to attend the interview but is allowed in some situations. By the end of the interview, a decision will have been made. If approved, a visa will then be issued to the beneficiary within a few weeks.
Entering the U.S.
Once your K-1 visa has been approved by the Department of State, it can take up to six months to legally enter the U.S. To ensure a smooth entry, the beneficiary will receive a visa packet that should be presented at the port of entry. After entering the United States, you must marry within a 90-day period. If for some reason you do not marry within this time, the K-1 visa holder will need to leave the United States before the 90-days has expired.
Increasing the K1 Visa Timeline
To help ensure that the K-1 visa process goes smoothly, submit all required documents according to the filing instructions. By not following these instructions, you risk a longer timeline. You can also prevent delays and denials relating to errors, omissions, and insufficient evidence by working with a professional immigration attorney. For more information about the K-1 visa processing timeline or for assistance with the process, reach out to Johnson & Masumi today.