As a foreign national engaged to a US citizen, you are eligible for a fiance visa which enables you to enter the United States and get married. How long does it take to get a fiance visa? The fiance visa process timeline typically stretches out over a year, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased fiance visa processing time. Although the fiance visa timeline varies in length, having a fiance visa allows you to travel to the United States in the 6 months after your fiance visa is approved. Then, once you are admitted to the US at a port of entry, you have 90 days to get married to the US citizen fiance that sponsored your visa. Once you are married, you can apply for lawful permanent residence. Applying for a green card, however, will add an extra year to your fiance visa timeline.
In this article, we provide you with an overview of the fiance visa timeline. We have tried to give a holistic answer to the “How long does it take to get a fiance visa” question by not only listing the fiance visa processing time for various parts of the application process but guiding you through the entire fiance visa process timeline. Our fiance visa timeline is simply an estimate of the fiance visa processing time and we do not guarantee that this will be your exact fiance visa timeline. In your particular case, the fiance visa processing time may be more or less than the processing times outlined below.
Keep in mind that your fiance visa processing time may be delayed by any errors in, or irregularities with, your application. If you want to avoid a prolonged fiance visa timeline, we recommend using the services of an experienced family-based immigration attorney.
While technically fiance refers to the male partner and fiancee refers to the female partner, in this article we have used fiance interchangeably for simplicity.
Is the USA fiance visa right for me?
Before answering the main question, it must be noted that although many couples opt for a K-1 fiance visa before they make the step towards a marriage-based green card, in some situations it might be better to skip the fiance visa process entirely and move directly to the green card application. If the couple is currently residing in the United States and plans to get married in the very near future, the best step might be to wait for the marriage and to apply for conditional permanent residence. Check out our article covering the complete marriage-based green card process for more information.
How long to get a fiance visa to the USA?
So, how long does it take to get a fiance visa? The K-1 fiance visa process timeline usually spans anywhere from 9 to 13 months, from the moment your fiance files for your fiance visa to the moment you enter the United States. With COVID-19 restrictions, this fiance visa processing time has been extended, and the fiance visa timeline may last upwards of 20 months.
Unfortunately, premium (faster) processing is not available when you apply for a fiance visa, so there is no way to reduce how long a fiance visa USA approval takes.
With a fiance visa USA how long does it take to get a green card?
With an average fiance visa timeline, it is likely to take around 13 months for a fiance visa holder to get to the United States and to marry his or her US citizen fiance. Then the married couple will have to file a petition for an alien spouse and adjustment of status, which can also take upwards of a year. For further details regarding the marriage-based green card, please refer to our article on the marriage-based green card process.
The Fiance Visa Timeline
If you are asking yourself “How long does it take to get a fiance visa?”, below you can find a step-by-step fiance visa process timeline that will hopefully help dispel any uncertainties you might have regarding the fiance visa processing time.
The first step in the fiance visa timeline is for the US citizen fiance to file the fiance visa petition, Form I-129F. The form is complex and requires the submission of thorough supporting documentation, including proof of citizenship for the U.S. citizen fiance, copy of the sponsored fiance’s passport, proof of the legitimacy of the relationship, proof of having met in person at least one time within the two years prior to filing the form, etc.
Normally, within two to three weeks after filing your Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance, you will receive your first Form I-797, Notice of Action, informing you that USCIS has received your fiance visa application.
Next on the fiance visa timeline is, unfortunately, waiting. Within five to nine months, you should receive a second Form I-797, Notice of Action, notifying you that your petition has been approved or denied. You may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), indicating that USCIS requires more evidence to establish the validity of your relationship. Each USCIS center has a different fiance visa processing time, so how long it takes for you to receive your second Notice of Action depends on which center is processing your petition. Unfortunately, the USCIS often has issues with backlogs and delays so the wait might be even longer than expected.
Once your petition is approved, USCIS will forward it to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC). This will usually happen within two weeks of the approval. The foreign fiance should receive a notice from the U.S. embassy in their home country within 30 days of receiving the approval.
Next, the foreign fiance will need to complete the DS-160 form – an online form required by the U.S. State Department’s online. Many clients wonder what the purpose of this form is – it is technically the actual K-1 visa application. You must remember to print the confirmation page after completing and submitting the DS-160.
After the submission, the interview should be scheduled. You will be informed of the necessary documentation you will need to provide during the interview as well as its date and location. This is the penultimate stage of the fiance visa timeline. It usually takes around four to six weeks for the embassy to schedule an interview. Interviewees are sometimes able to receive their visa on the same day as the interview, but it usually takes about a week. Once the foreign fiance receives their visa, they have 6 months to enter the United States before the visa expires.
The final step in the actual fiance visa process timeline is to actually get married. You should get married within 90 days of receiving the K-1 visa. After the wedding, the U.S. citizen should file an I-485 form to adjust the immigration status of the foreign spouse. Alongside the I-485 application, the foreign spouse should also be able to request work and travel permits in order to be allowed to work legally and travel in and out of the U.S. while awaiting the adjudication of the green card through marriage petition. If USCIS approves the green card petition, then the foreign national will become a permanent resident in the United States. For more details regarding the marriage-based green card, refer to our article on the process (https://www.pandevlaw.com/blog/green-card-marriage-process/).
Be aware that any missteps in the fiance visa application process may delay your fiance visa process timeline. Using the services and expertise of an experienced family-based immigration attorney can help you avoid any unwanted delays in your fiance visa timeline. Keep in mind that the fiance visa processing time detailed above is not set in stone and may vary depending on your circumstances.
Fiance Visa Timeline FAQ
What happens if there is a war or a natural disaster in the country of the foreign fiance?
Any unexpected events and conflicts can cause further delays in processing. For example, the COVID-19 crisis caused delays as some embassies were closed due to the quarantine restrictions in their given countries.
Is it true that some countries have longer processing times than others?
Yes, unfortunately that is true. Part of the fiance visa timeline is dependent on the U.S. consulate that is processing the request. The consulates of some countries have significantly longer waiting times for scheduling fiance visa interviews and visa processing. If a country is known for high rates of visa fraud then the processing itself might take longer due to the stricter criteria applied by officers in charge of the petitions. Furthermore, some countries with multiple consulates have different processing times in each consulate, and in these cases you should always check the average fiance visa timeline of each consulate before applying for it.
Is there any way I can expedite the processing of my fiancé visa application?
There are a few things you can do to ensure that your application won’t face any issues and delays during processing. Firstly, make sure both of you are legally allowed and eligible to get married in the United States i.e., you are both over the age of 18 and neither of you are currently married to another person. If one of both of the spouses has a previous marriage then you will need to provide documents as proof that the marriage is legally dissolved through divorce, annulment, death, etc.
You should also make sure that you provide all the necessary supporting documentation requested by the U.S. government alongside your petition. Any missing documents will result in a Request for Evidence which will further delay your processing times.
What happens if I get a Request for Evidence?
It is common for applicants to receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). By choosing to work with a lawyer on your case you would bring down the chance of receiving an RFE significantly, as most RFEs are due to improper preparation of the application. The request will contain instructions about the missing information and/or documentation as well as the address when you should submit the response and the date by which you should do it.
Our Fiance Visa Services
Are you a US citizen who would like to sponsor your foreign national fiance for a US visa? Are you a foreign national engaged to a US citizen who wants to find out more about the fiance visa timeline? Are you unsure how long does it take to get a fiance visa?
If you are wondering how long does a fiance visa take, our immigration attorneys have the answer for you. They will guide you through the fiance visa process timeline and can devise a fiance visa and marriage-based green card strategy tailor-made to accommodate the particular needs of your case and prepare your fiance visa application and subsequent marriage-based green card application in accordance with all the pertinent immigration rules.
During your consultation, our family-based immigration lawyer will provide an honest assessment of your case, and a recommendation about your next steps.
Disclaimer: This blog article is provided by Pandev Law, LLC for general educational and informational purposes only. Although this article discusses general legal issues, it does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented in this article, or elsewhere on this website, without seeking the advice of appropriate legal counsel, or other professional counsel, licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. Pandev Law, LLC expressly disclaims any and all liability with respect to any actions taken, or not taken, based on any content of this article or website. This blog article may constitute attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.