Covid-19 delays K1 Fiance Visa Processing Timeline
The whole world has been inconvenienced by the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.
Fiance visa applications already in process at the time quarantines started are still
on hold. There are many months of backlogged cases. New applications continue to be filed and face
While USCIS is currently processing cases faster than usual, the State Department due to
worldwide Embassy closures is slowed to a crawl.
Cases now hurry up “through USCIS” and then wait at “Department of State”.
Today, my purpose is to explain what is happening behind the scenes at USCIS, NVC
and the US Embassies so that you and your partner will understand what to expect
and how to deal with it.Hopefully knowledge should help you sleep better.
I am Fred Wahl the VisaCoach and I work for you to prepare and craft
your applications to submit to US Immigration. Sometimes callers
ask me “Do I fill in the forms for them,or do they have to do it themselves?”.
Absolutely, it will be ME filling in all the needed forms and putting together your
After we submit your application, I do not abandon you. I remain with you on this journey.
I continue by your side personally helping and guiding you until that happy day your
foreign partner calls to say she or he is “on the way”.
And please watch to the end of this video because around that time I
will explain you may be able speed up your case’s approval.
Now, lets talk about “how the Covid-19 pandemic has effected the processing of K1 Fiance Visa cases”
At the time before the Pandemic quarantines began, fiancee visa’s typically took a total
of about 8 to 10 months from submission of application till issuance of visa.
This normally included 6 to 8 months processing at USCIS, followed by 2 to 3 months
under the Department of State at their National Visa Center, NVC and at the US Embassy and Consulate.
USCIS closed their public offices in March. They no longer allowed visitors, or conducted
interviews. At the same time, country by country, borders were closed,
flights were cancelled, stay at home orders occurred, non-essential businesses closed.
USCIS employees did not really suffer. Their jobs and pay continued. Front office employees were
relocated to work temporarily in their back offices.
Review and processing of cases continued as usual except there were more hands
available to work on cases.
At the same time, a lot of couples who normally would be filing their new applications,
decided to delay taking action. Maybe their flight was cancelled keeping them from making
that final trip needed to gather evidence or to meet for the first time, maybe waiting
to find out how the pandemic would effect their job and income.
What happened then was that USCIS had extra staff to process cases, and at the same time
less new cases were filed. They received only 4 out of 10 of the usual number of new cases.
So 100% employees, and 40% of expected cases, resulted in new cases being processed and
passing through USCIS stage faster. Instead of it taking 6 to 8 cases, many current cases
only take 2 to 3 months.
Good news is most recent Fiance Visa cases get through the USCIS stage twice as fast as normal.
Bad news is next step is NVC and consulate interview. And that is currently where
there log jam occurs.
On March 20, due to the Pandemic, most US consulate’s abruptly closed their gates without warning
All visitors and even those applicants with confirmed, previously scheduled interviews were locked out.
On the day the consulates closed, each had about two or three months worth of cases already booked
with interview dates scheduled and confirmed. And more in their pipeline awaiting a chance to
book an interview. All of these cases were instantly put on hold.
Once USCIS has completed their review of an application, the case is passed on to the State Department’s
National Visa Center, NVC.
Routinely NVC only briefly touches a K1 Fiance visa application, generally only working on it long enough
to identify where it should be sent, assign a Department of State, case number, sending an email
to the US sponsor letting him/her know the new case number then finally shipping it via courier
to the overseas consulate where your fiance will be interviewed. Usually this only takes a few weeks.
For the remainder of March and part way through April, NVC continued to process cases as usual. Touching,
assigning, emailing and shipping cases.
As the consulate by that time already had many months of cases on hold, and did not know
when or how they would be able to reopen, then simply let thse new arrivals, pile up. Planning
to handle them, whenever.
Eventually, NVC decided it made more sense to stop sending cases overseas and instead to hold these
cases at NVC. This has been the case since April, Pending cases are piling up.
Unfortunately, NVC did not bother to notify you what was going on.
The email from NVC, expected to arrive in a few weeks, was not sent. No notices have been sent.
No news at all
This has caused much concern from applicants, disappointed and frightened that no news
means their case has been lost. No good news that a case is on it’s way to the consulate,
Well, your case has not been forgotten,
NVC is just sitting on your case, remaining quiet, patiently waiting for the day that the
destination consulate advises it has reopened, cleared it’s backlog and is ready to accept more cases.
As the consulate probably already has a few months of scheduled cases, plus more cases in their pipeline
on the day of closure, each consulate has a considerable backlog of applications that need to be cleared
once they reopen.
It will probably take the consulates many months, again, after they reopen, to clear that backlog.
Once they do, they will then contact NVC advising they are ready to receive the cases that have
been held at NVC.
Eventually, many months after reopening, it will be business as usual. In the meantime expect continued
Watch your consulates website for info of if and when it reopens. That will give you a starting point
to estimate how long your case still has to go.
One area that concerns most, is that when USCIS completes their review of your case and approves it,
USCIS officially gives you exactly 4 months to get your visa. Officially if you have not gotten it
or taken serious steps to book the interview your case is denied. Since your case is likely to be
delayed, and as the reason is due to the pandemic, and because USCIS, NVC and the consulate is
well aware of this situation, do not fear that your case will be denied due to non-action. All USCIS
expiry dates for cases in this situation will automatically be extended.
Some countries have reopened, some are reopening faster than others, and some of our consulates
have reopened already. Unfortunately for fiance visa applicants, the consulates are not viewing
clearing the backlog of fiance visa cases as a high priority. The consulates that have reopened
are giving priority to spouses and children of US citizens, and is trying to clear those cases first.
There is one exception, and that may apply to you. When applying for a fiance visa, if your fiance has
children under the age of 21, they may be included with the parents fiance visa application and can
come with parent to the USA. However the child is only eligible if under 21 and lands in the USA
before his or her 21’st birth day.
If your application includes a dependent child who is approaching 21 years of age,
and runs the risk to “age out”, most consulates will agree to expedite your case and treat
it as a high priority..
Good luck, stay safe, and well, try to be as patient as you can while your case is in process.