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How Long Does It Take To Get a K-1 Visa?

Posted on May 20, 2022
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By Heather Beliles, M. Ed.

While there are an enumerative amount of scenarios a foreign-born fiancé(e) would be in when applying for their K-1 visa, the time frame for receiving this type of visa generally takes a year. That is, if the engaged couple meets the specific requirements as established by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The more variance a case has, the longer the wait-time – which could last up to two years.

What is the K1 Visa Processing Time?

Within the K-1 visa application, the Petition for Alien Fiancé (Form I-129F) is where the majority of the processing time occurs. Below is a breakdown of the stages and the length of time each stage normally takes. 

Note: These time frames do not take into account extreme or uncommon cases.
As of May 2022, the USCIS website gives an estimation of 10.5 months for processing times.

Stage 1: The USCIS reviews and processes the applicant’s Form I-129F. 

Time frame: 10.5 months

Stage 2: The National Visa Center (NVC) sends instructions to the applicant about Form DS-160 and then notifies the U.S. embassy or consulate regarding the K-1 petition. 

Time frame: 3-4 weeks

Stage 3: The U.S. embassy or consulate schedules and conducts an interview with the foreign fiancé(e).

Time frame: 4-6 weeks

Upon completion of stage 3, the interviewing officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate sends the foreign fiancé(e) the final decision. 

Time frame: within 4 weeks

K-1 Visa Marital Status & Legal Background Contingencies 

Some possible variations include, but are not limited to the following situations:

Living together or separate – outside of the United States

  • The foreigner currently lives outside of the U.S., and is the fiancé(e) to a U.S. citizen
  • The foreigner currently lives outside of the U.S. and is either currently married to someone else, married to a U.S. citizen who currently lives either inside or outside of the U.S., is married to a lawful U.S. permanent resident, or is married to an unlawful U.S. resident
  • The foreigner and the lawful U.S. permanent resident currently live together outside of the U.S.

Living together or separate – inside the United States

  • The foreigner currently lives inside the United States, and is fiancé(e) to a U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident
  • The foreigner currently lives inside the U.S. and is either currently married to someone else, married to a U.S. citizen who currently lives either inside or outside of the U.S., is married to a lawful U.S. permanent resident, or is married to an unlawful U.S. resident
  • The foreigner currently lives in the U.S. legally, and currently lives with the U.S. citizen, or a lawful U.S. permanent resident
  • The foreigner currently lives in the U.S. illegally, and is either the fiancé(e), or is married to a U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident
  • The foreigner and the lawful U.S. permanent resident currently live together, or they currently do not live together 

As demonstrated above, there is a vast array of combinations the soon-to-be-married couple could find themselves in. It is evident though – some cases will be processed quicker than others, and some will require additional administrative processing. Then there is another more unfortunate outcome: the rest will automatically be denied on the basis of immigration status, citizenship, relationship status, document authenticity, information factuality, sincerity of the relationship, etc.

Rather than discussing here how long a K-1 visa would take for each of the theoretical circumstances, we recommend cases with more complexity to be discussed privately with an immigration attorney. If the applicant finds themselves in a more challenging situation, please contact an experienced attorney at Shoreline Immigration for catered guidance, especially when beginning to navigate through the K-1 visa process.

How Long Can a K-1 Visa Really Take?

To answer the question in general of, “How long does it take to get a K-1 visa,” the timeframes presently range from 10-13 months. Extended processing times can vary from just a few additional months, and up to one additional year. Unfortunately, there could be certain factors resulting in K-1 visa processing delays.

Circumstances outside of the applicant’s control could include:

  • The Coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic 
  • USCIS office closures
  • USCIS backlogs
  • Backlogs in U.S. embassies abroad

Circumstances within the applicant’s control may include:

  • Submission of fraudulent documents
  • Missed payments or inability to pay for K-1 visa filing fees
  • Errors in the K-1 visa application – and/or errors in any supplemental documents
  • Drug trafficking involvement
  • Overstaying any previous U.S. visa
  • Practicing polygamy
  • Location of the office where the application is filed
  • Complications in the applicant’s case
  • Incorrect emails and telephone numbers
  • Inaccurate mailing addresses 
  • Failing to give substantial evidence the marriage in one of good faith
  • False biographical information
  • Other current ineligibilities

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take To Get a K-1 Visa?

Considering the variety of circumstances K-1 visa applicants could be classified under, it is quite difficult to articulate a definite period of time in which each case would be processed. It is common for simpler cases to take about a year, give or take a month or two.  So as to alleviate as much stress as possible, applicants should keep this average timeframe in mind when applying for, or while waiting on their K-1 visa application to be processed.

To keep the K-1 Visa processing times as short as possible, applicants should be diligent when completing each step in the K-1 visa application process. It is crucial both of the applicants in each case submit accurate and complete applications. Likewise, they should supply proof of a bonafide union, attend respective interviews, meet all requirements, and adhere to all the deadlines.

Form I-129F takes the longest time to process, as it will be with the USCIS for about 10.5 months. After that, Form DS-160 will be with the NVC for about 3- 4 weeks. Then, the scheduling and conduction of the interview between the foreign-born national and the U.S. embassy or consulate officer will take about 4-6 weeks. Finally, the foreign fiancé(e) will receive the officer’s decision within 4 weeks.

To get an up-to-date K-1 visa processing time, visit the USCIS website for the agency’s official estimation.

What is the K-1 Visa processing time frames?

This processing time is an estimation of how long it will take the USCIS to process each case. It is based on the current amount of pending cases. As some cases have more variables than others, they will take longer to process. Such processing times are simply estimations, and are to be used as a reference, not as a specific duration of time it will take for each case to be completed.

When can I begin inquiring about my K-1 Visa Status?

The USCIS allows inquiries regarding K-1 visa applications only if the case is has taken much longer than the USCIS’s previously estimated processing time.

How many steps are there when applying for a K-1 visa, and how long does each one take?

There are three stages. The first is when the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) files Form I-129F with the USCIS – which is processed in about 10.5 months. The second is when the NVC processes Form DS-160 – which is processed in about 3-4 weeks. The third is when U.S. embassy or consulate schedules and conducts an interview with the foreign fiancé(e), which happens in about 4-6 weeks. If the officer does not require any additional information or documentation, he or she will inform the foreign fiancé(e) of their final decision. 

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