The K1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K1 visa allows the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. After filing the required I-129F form, Petition for Alien Fiancé with USCIS, there are several steps to acquiring the K1 fiancé visa. However, the processing times vary but on average, it takes approximately 6 to 9 months to obtain a K1 visa.
K1 Fiancé Visa – Processing Time In 2022
Due to several factors, the K1 visa is taking much longer to process. The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with huge backlogs in processing times at USCIS, the length of processing time has extended from 6 months to over 10 months now to process Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. After this, there is an additional 4-6 weeks processing time for the USCIS to send an interview request at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. So, US citizens sponsoring a foreign citizen fiancé to enter the US to marry within 90 days of arrival should plan for at least a year for the paperwork to get approved and clear from the system.
Your K1 visa petition goes through the USCIS, NVC, and US Department Of State before it’s approved. This process though long, and goes through an arduous system before you can get married to your fiancé, there are certain conditions to be aware of that might help in expediting the K1 process.
Ineligibilities For K1 Visa
To begin with, you should be aware of certain situations and activities that may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. If you have ensured you don’t fall under the below mentioned ineligibilities, your chances of getting approved are higher.
It is important to have a clean record to ensure that there are no delays based on these:
- Trafficking in Drugs
- Overstaying a previous visa
- Practicing polygamy
- Advocating the overthrow of the government
- Submitting fraudulent documents
If the above is not applicable to you, you will be able to apply for the K1 visa unhindered.
Premium Processing For K1 Visa
Unfortunately, the K1 visa does not qualify for premium processing. Unlike in some visa categories, you cannot pay extra in order to either expedite processing or receive faster adjudication of your K1 petition.
However, US citizen petitioners of the K1 visa do have the option of making general inquiries and requesting status by contacting the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY for the deaf, hard of hearing, or those having a speech disability: 1-800-767-1833) or by asking Emma after you have obtained a receipt notice.
You can check how long the USCIS Service Center for your area is taking to make decisions on I-129 Fs on the Check Case Processing Times page of USCIS’s website.
What Is The Status Of Your K1 Visa? Check Your K1 Visa Status Online
How To Expedite Your K1 Visa?
Given that there is nothing to do to expedite the processing times, including accessing the premium processing option for the K1 fiancé visa, you should be very diligent about the forms and filing requirements for the K1 visa. Backlogs, errors and general delays can happen at any step of the K1 process. These things can end up costing you several weeks. Since there is already a processing backlog at USCIS, which you can do nothing about but wait patiently for the process to take its due course.
Having said that, you can pay attention to the following, to make sure you haven’t caused any delays yourself. Not only will the K1 visa process sooner but you will also avoid delays in the forms of RFE.
- Errors When Filling Form & Subsequent RFEs
One of the most diligent steps to take is making sure your I-129F, K1 visa petition is completely error free. For if there are errors in your I-129F petition, you’ll have to make corrections and re-submit. This causes unnecessary delays. If your filing is incomplete and you haven’t provided enough evidence to the USCIS, you’ll receive Requests For Evidence (RFE). USCIS will not proceed with your case until you comply and respond. This again causes more delays. The ideal application will be one that has no errors and therefore, no road bumps along the way.
- Online Filing
While USCIS allows for several online options to file petitions, your petition goes through several systems before it is finalized. The K1 petition will go from the USCIS service center to the NVC, to the US Embassy overseas and to your fiancé(e) before getting approved. Mailing and delivery can cause additional time. It is important for you to find every electronic option for filing to help expedite this process.
- Follow Process To The T
It is important that when filing your K1 petition, you cross all the Ts and dot all the I’s. Submitting your financial and supporting documents and paying visa application fees correctly are the first steps. Subsequently, schedule an embassy interview and a required medical exam as fast as you can get a date.
- Filing Location
You can file your K1 petition where you live. Your filing location will have an impact on your processing time. Some service centers are normally slower than others due to the already existing backlogs therein. There is little you can do to control this.
- Backlogs In US Embassies Abroad
The US Embassies abroad are either shut down due to the pandemic lockdowns or operating on very limited resources and staff. The date of the interview and visa approval are dependent on when they have availability and reduced backlogs. For US consulates with high application volumes, expect longer wait times.
- Filing Season – Time Of Year You filed petition
USCIS goes through peak and low seasons. Depending upon the volume of applications submitted during different times of the year, it will impact your processing times as well. For example, certain petitions filed during the summer tend to be processed quicker than those filed during the winter.
- Complications In Your Case
Please see above for a list of ineligibilities for K1 fiancé visa. One of the steps in processing the K1 visa is doing a background check on your fiancé abroad. Significant delays could occur if you or your fiancé(e) has a criminal history, questionable background checks, or a previous immigration violation.
Another requirement is the need for a medical check. If your foreign fiancé has issues during his/her medical exam it will further delay your K1 visa issuance.
- USCIS Backlogs
USCIS service centers are heavily backlogged due to the pandemic and other processing delays. They have thousands of immigration applications to sift through and this is usually done according to a first-come-first-served basis. Depending upon when you filed your K1 visa petition, it can add several months to your K1 visa timeline.
While there is little one can do to expedite the K1 fiancé visa, there are measures you can take to make sure that the process is not hindered. To smoothen out the process and be diligent about filing correctly and fulfilling all requirements on time.