How Long Does The K1 Fiance Visa Take?
Getting engaged is an exciting time for most couples but it can also bring on a lot emotions. Anyone that has been in a long distance relationship for any length of time will tell you how hard it can be. When you finally meet in person for the first time, the experience is pretty amazing. You feel nervous, anxious and excited all at the same time.
So, for those of you wondering how long does the K1 fiance visa take, you’ll get your answer in this post.
Long distance relationships are hard. Especially when you live in two different countries. Eventually, you’ll need to decide who will move to which country to continue the relationship. I’ve never seen it work when the couple is long distance for decades (if you have, please let me know!).
In my own situation, my now husband and I were long distance for almost 4 years before I finally moved. Why did I wait this long? Well, we were both in school and I wanted to graduate before starting my new life in America.
The decision to move to the U.S was really hard. So hard, in fact, that I tried to convince him to move to Canada instead. Of course, he laughed at me as he knew nothing about Canada and wasn’t about to leave the U.S. permanently.
Something about Americans where they think the U.S. is the center of the universe. I won’t go into that but it’s definitely a mentality that is ingrained in the American way of life. I’m becoming guilty of this mindset myself.
K1 Fiance Visa Timeline
The nice thing about the K1 visa timeline is that it follow 4 simple steps. Every single case goes through the process in a similar way so you know what to expect. When you first submit your petition to USCIS, it is routed to the right department where it will sit on someone’s desk for months before it’s reviewed.
That’s right. Most of the time you’re waiting, no one is actually looking at your documents and evidence. I’ve summarized the K1 fiance visa timeline into 4 different steps to help you get an idea of what to expect.
Step 1: File I-129F petition with USCIS
The first step of the process can take the most time. Why? Because you have to gather all the evidence and fill out a lot of forms.
It took me about 6 weeks to put my I-129F petition together with my fiance. Okay, I’ll be honest, he let me do most of the hard work. I’m also a perfectionist so I wanted to be in full control of what documents were sent and how they were organized.
After you send your entire I-129F packet to USCIS, you’ll quickly receive the first notice of action NOA1. This notice is a letter that USCIS sends to the petitioner letting them know the petition was accepted.
You can be assured that the filing fee was correct and you signed all the documents. If you forgot to include the payment, sent the wrong amount or didn’t sign the forms, USCIS will reject your petition immediately.
Step 2: Submit documents to NVC
YAY! You’re I-129F petition has been approved by USCIS and sent to the National Visa Center. This is exciting because this is the first time in almost 4-5 months that you’ve heard anything about your case.
I’m sure you were wondering if they lost your petition, right?
Well, now that NVC has your case they will send you a packet of instructions and forms that you and your fiance need to fill out. I remember when I was completing my case in 2012/2013, most of the forms were done manually but now you can fill out DS-160 online which is nice.
Once you pay the nonimmigrant visa fee and fill out form DS-160, your case is forwarded to the U.S. consulate abroad. You may be given a date and time for your interview, or given the option to schedule it yourself.
Step 3: Attend your medical exam
This step is required for all K1 visa applicants. It’s used to find out if you have any communicable diseases that can spread inside the U.S.
The good news is that even if you have a communicable disease such as TB, as long as you’ve been treated for it, you can still get the K1 visa. So don’t be scared during the medical exam to be honest about your medical history.
Another requirement for the medical exam is that you are up-to-date on your vaccination records. It’s best to bring your vaccine records with you to the medical exam so that the panel physician can look it over.
If you have no vaccination records, you may be required to take age appropriate vaccines even if you’ve already had them. Some people ask to have a titer test done to see if they have anti-bodies to the virus or vaccine. Check with the clinic you’ll be going to and ask if this is possible in your case.
The medical exam will consist of a physical exam, medical history questionnaire, vaccinations and x-ray.
Step 4: Attend your visa interview
Finally, you’ll attend a K1 visa interview where you’ll be asked several questions about your relationship and intentions after you enter the U.S.
The interview is used by the consular officer to see you in person. They want to see whether you are being honest about your relationship and how well you answer their questions. Their job is to weed out people who are trying to immigrate to the U.S. based on false information.
The interview can last about 20-30 minutes. Most of this time is spent reviewing documents and asking you questions. It’s normal to feel nervous and scared. I was very nervous at my K1 visa interview even though I knew my relationship was real.
Try to relax as best as you can and answer the questions you’re asked honestly.
After the interview, you are either told you’re approved or are given form 221(g) and placed on administrative processing.
- Approved cases will receive their passport and K1 visa stamp within a few weeks in the mail.
- 221(g) cases will be pending until the consulate completes review or background checks.
How Long Does The K1 Fiance Visa Take?
I don’t know about you, but waiting was the hardest part of my K1 visa journey. The unknown amount of time was scary because I just wanted to be with my fiance at the time, I could barely stand it.
The funny thing is that the long distance REALLY started bothering me after we file the I-129F petition. It was like I woke up one day to realize we were in a long distance relationship by force.
I was desperate to know how long we would be waiting for our K1 visa approval. The process will definitely feel like forever, but I promise you that it won’t be that long compared to the rest of your life.
The total K1 visa process takes about 7-11 months.
Of course, this can vary depending on your case. My case took about 9 months for approval and this includes a request for evidence (RFE) delay at the NVC stage. If your case goes smoothly and you aren’t sent an RFE, it will be a lot quicker.
If you’re applying from a high fraud country, the K1 visa will take much longer. You may be looking at 1-2 years for approval from the following areas:
This is not a complete list but most of the countries that are on the high fraud list are developing nations. You should also know that most Muslim countries have a higher chance of administrative processing and take longer to get approved.
The number one reason for a delay in the K1 visa process is a request for evidence (RFE). I received an RFE because my fiance sent me 3 years tax returns when NVC specifically wanted tax transcripts directly from the IRS.
This mistake cost us about 25 days of additional waiting. We responded to the RFE in 2 days but the National Visa Center didn’t complete processing the new document for more than 20 days.
As you can see, they are slow to review documents. This is why it’s so important to send everything you can in the initial I-129F petition.
Finally, administrative processing can delay the issuance of a K1 fiance visa. Administrative processing (AP) is normally completed within 60 days but I’ve seen some cases take years for a decision. If you’re ever in this situation, you should contact the consulate directly or get your congressman involved.
How To Expedite The K1 Fiance Visa?
If 7-11 months seems like an insanely long time for you to wait, there’s the visa expedite option. It won’t be easy but if you meet certain criteria that USCIS has, you can speed the process by several months if not years.
When you are approved for the visa expedite request, your case can be approved in less than 90 days.
Not bad right? But not everyone is approved for the visa expedite. You’ll need to have an extreme case for USCIS to put your case in front of thousands of others that have been waiting much longer than you have.
I recommend that you submit the visa expedite with the I-129F petition but you can also request it when the petition is approved and forwarded to NVC.
Final Thoughts On The K1 Visa Process
I hope that I’ve answered your question on how long the K1 fiance visa process takes and put your mind at ease. If you complete the forms correctly and submit all the evidence that’s required, you should be approved in less than a year.
I know that 7-11 months seems like a really long time but it helps to focus on the big picture. After this waiting period, you’ll be able to live in the U.S. with your fiance, get married and move on with your life.
This isn’t the last time you’ll need to submit documents to USCIS but I can tell you that waiting inside the U.S. is much easier.
Another thing that can help make the wait easier is to plan your wedding while you wait. This can mean setting a date, booking the venue and helping friends and family plan their trips to the U.S. if possible.
If you’re going to skip the big wedding and go the courthouse to get married, why not start planning your honeymoon? During the months of waiting, I worked overtime back home in Canada so that I could save as much money as possible.
This definitely helped to get us started in the U.S. because I used the money to buy some new furniture, go on some trips with my new husband and buy new clothes.
Find out what happens at the K1 port of entry when you enter the U.S. for the first time.
After you arrive in the U.S., you’ll need to get married and start preparing your I-485 adjustment of status application. You’re job isn’t done yet! This is one of the downsides of the K1 visa when compared to the CR1 spouse visa. You won’t get a green card until your file I-485 petition and pay additional fees.