Your fiancé(e) requires a K-1 visa to enter the United States. You know that s/he is eligible to apply.
What is the Timeline to Apply for and Obtain a K-1 Visa?
The issuance of a K-1 visa requires processing by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), National Visa Center (NVC) and United States embassy or consulate. The USCIS and United States embassy or consulate processing times can vary depending upon where the petitioner (in the United States) and the fiancé(e) (foreign country) reside. In general, however, the typical timeline for K-1 visa processing is as follows:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Processing
Once the fiancé(e) petition is filed, the USCIS issues a receipt notice to the petitioner (U.S. citizen) and attorney. The USCIS allocates 5 months to render a decision. Since each fiancé(e) petition differs in terms of complexity, the decision time can vary. Assuming that the fiancé(e) petition is correctly filed with all relevant documentation, the majority of cases are adjudicated in 4 months. Once approved, the USCIS issues an approval notice to the petitioner and attorney. The approved fiancé(e) petition is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for the second step in the process.
Receipt Notice Issued: 2 Weeks from Date of Receipt of Fiancé(e) Petition
Approval Notice Issued: 4-5 Months from Date of Receipt of Fiancé(e) Petition
Total Time to Process: 4-5 Months from Date of Receipt of Fiancé(e) Petition
National Visa Center (NVC) Processing
Once the approved fiancé(e) petition is received, the NVC performs a background check of your fiancé(e). Upon completion of the background check, the NVC forwards the approved fiancé(e) petition to the United States embassy or consulate located in your fiancé(e)’s home country for the third step in the process.
Total Time to Process: 1 Month
United States Embassy or Consulate Processing
Upon receipt of the approved fiancé(e) petition and background check, the United States embassy or consulate sends a letter to your fiancé(e) and attorney confirming receipt of the case and commencement of visa processing. The fiancé(e) will receive specific instructions (known as ‘Packet 3’) regarding the K-1 (and K-2 for minor children) online nonimmigrant visa applications; including instructions on obtaining a medical examination at a designated facility, a list of the documentation to be presented at the interview (sample documents are listed here) , the date and time of the interview and notice to make payment of K-1 (and K-2) visa fees.
At the interview, the consular officer will verify that all required documentation has been provided. Second, and more importantly, the consular officer will question your fiancé(e) in detail with respect to the specifics of your relationship in order to determine its legitimacy.
Assuming that the consular officer is satisfied, the K-1 application is approved and a K-1 visa is placed in your fiancé(e)’s passport. At that time, the United States embassy or consulate will also approve any K-2 visa application and place appropriate K-2 visas in your fiancé(e)’s children’s passports. At this point, the fiancé(e) and their children may enter the United States.
Case Receipt Letter Issued: 1-5 Days from Date of Receipt of NVC Case Package
Interview Scheduled: 2-5 Months from Date of Receipt of NVC Case Package
Visa Issued: 7-10 Days from Date of Interview
Total Time to Process: 2-5 Months
Entering the United States
Upon issuance of the K-1 and K-2 visas, your fiancé(e) and any children must enter the United States within 6 months. The K-1 and K-2 visas are valid for a single entry. The K-1 visa is presented to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer who admits your fiancé(e) into the United States. An Arrival-Departure Record (form I-94) that indicates the immigration classification (K-1), date and port of entry and length of admission (90 days) is evidence of your fiancé(e)’s entry. This record can be accessed online. After entry, you and your fiancé(e) must marry within 90 days. If your fiancé(e) does not marry you within 90 days of entry, they and their children (if any) must depart the United States at the end of the 90 day period. It is important to note that the 90 day period cannot be extended.
Period of Validity of K-1 Visa: 6 Months
Period of Validity of Form I-94: 90 days
Permanent Resident (‘Green Card’) Status
Once your fiancé(e) marries you, then s/he and their children can file an application to adjust their status with the USCIS to become a lawful permanent resident (‘green card’ holder) of the United States. The application to adjust their status, along with work permit and travel document applications will be processed in the United States without need for the fiancé(e) to depart.
Receipt Notices Issued: 2 Weeks from Date of Receipt of Applications
Biometrics (Fingerprinting) Appointment Scheduled: 1 Month from Date of Receipt of Applications
Work Permit Issued: 90 days from Date of Receipt of Application
Travel Document Issued: 90 days from Date of Receipt of Application
Interview Scheduled: 4-5 Months from Date of Receipt of Application
Permanent Residence Card Issued: 10 Days from Date of Interview
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