Todays topic is: How long does it take to get a K1 Fiance visa in 2020?
The expected timeline is very important to know, because you have a lot of preparations and plans to make.
First of all you must choose which path to take in the first place. Fiance or spouse visa? Should you marry and wait for a spouse visa or stay engaged and apply for the fiance visa instead. Spoiler alert: The Fiance visa brings your partner to the USA twice as fast as a spouse visa.
You have to budget monies to pay for the visa, for travel, for the wedding and honeymoon. Maybe you plan to find a bigger, nicer place to live, or to renovate your existing home. You want your Fiance to feel happy and comfortable on arrival. There is a lot that needs to be done, and you need to know how much time you have to do it in.
Two separate departments of the US government are involved.
USCIS (homeland security) and the Department of State.
From Mid 2017 through to 2019 Homeland Security recently is getting their job done relatively slowly, currently taking 6 to 8 months. (this compares to processing times pre-President Trump of doing the same job in only 2 to 3 months
Why is USCIS now taking an extra 4 to 5 months do perform their review?
I call this the Trump Effect. President Trump after taking office in January 2017 has mandated that USCIS vigorously enforce and administer immigration laws, take no short cuts. The goal is to restrict Legal immigration while stopping illegal immigration.
“We have to get much tougher, much smarter, and less politically correct,” Trump said.
What this means is that they are very closely examining and scrutinizing all cases looking for reasons to deny. In addition cases that regularly had their interviews waived now specifically there is an Executive order that no interviews regardless of the strength of their evidences, may be waived.
The result is USCIS has more work to do, has more bases to touch in the processing of EACH case. And while President Trump has promised to hire more staff to handle the increased load, so far no new staff has been hired, but the workload has increased.
This is the Trump Effect. More work, with same staff. The result is that USCIS processing times for fiance visas have stretched to take at least 6 to 8 months. And it is possible this may even get worse, depending on how many new steps USCIS is asked to take, such as “extreme vetting” and “social media data mining” that are new labor intensive steps that have been proposed but not implemented yet.
USCIS Processing includes a background check by the FBI
In addition to the general slow down due to the “Trump Effect” what also affects how long it takes for USCIS to approve your case is a function of how complete your petition is, how busy the processing center is, how current your FBI file is, and a bit of luck.
The most obvious source of added delay is caused by improperly filled in applications, and missing required documents and evidences.
When USCIS finds a problem, processing grinds to a halt, and it is stopped until the problem is fixed. Sometimes the errors are so big that they don’t bother asking for corrections and simply deny a case outright.
Once USCIS finishes their part, the case is passed to the US Department of State.
The Department of State has a processing center in New Hampshire, called the National Visa Center or NVC.
NVC basically assigns a new Department of State case number, then forwards the file on to the American Consulate reponsible to issue the visa.
Once NVC has completed their actions, a few weeks later the case file physically arrives at the consulate assigned to process your Fiancee.
Within a few weeks, the consulate contacts your Fiancee directly with instructions on booking the interview, attending the medical and final document checklists.
Some consulates are busier, more efficient, and or work faster than others.
In Philippines the process is very efficient and fast. Interviews and visa issuance may just just about two months.
Whereas in Vietnam and China it may take 3 to 4 months instead.
The Approval/Denial decision is made during the interview. Then in about 2 weeks the passport with its new K1 visa is returned.
Just as in medicine commercials on TV. “Your results may vary”.
Some of my clients get their visas faster, some slower.
To summarize the different stages, the timeline breaks down as follows:
6 to 8 months at USCIS
a 1/2 month at NVC
and 2 to 3 months at the Consulate/Interview stage
If in 2019 you anticipate 8 to 10 months average K1 Fiance Visa processing time, you won’t be far off.
Regardless of how fast or slow the process goes, do not book air tickets, nor wedding chapels, until after the visa is actually in the hands of your fiance AND double checked for correct spelling of her or his name.
By Fred Wahl