K-1 Visa Processing Time
What Happens After Filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé
Filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, is the first step in obtaining a K-1 visa for a fiancé. A U.S. citizen files the petition to establish a qualifying relationship with the foreign national beneficiary, but there are additional steps. Understandably, you both want to know how long it takes throughout the K-1 visa processing time line and what happens in the different steps.
Although the steps that take place are fairly consistent, the K-1 visa processing time will vary based on the USCIS case load, U.S. embassy in the beneficiary's country, and your ability to properly file an accurately prepared I-129F petition. The following outline describes the basic steps of the K-1 visa time line for most people.
Receipt of PetitionAPPROXIMATELY 2 TO 3 WEEKS AFTER FILING
Nearly 9% of Form I-129F petitions are rejected, and thousands more are denied. A poorly prepared petition can also delay the approval process and even create significant immigration problems. When you prepare your I-129F on CitizenPath, we provide simple, step-by-step instructions and alerts to help you avoid costly delays. We even guarantee USCIS will approve your petition. No credit card is required to try it.
Adjudication of PetitionAPPROXIMATELY 4 TO 6 MONTHS AFTER FILING
Case Moves to National Visa CenterAPPROXIMATELY 4 TO 6 WEEKS AFTER PETITION APPROVAL
Embassy LetterAPPROXIMATELY 2 TO 4 WEEKS AFTER EMBASSY RECEIVES CASE
Once the embassy has reviewed the case, they will send a letter to the foreign fiancé (beneficiary) with instructions for scheduling the medical exam and interview. The letter will also provide a list of items that must be submitted and explain which items must be submitted immediately and which items should be brought to the K-1 visa interview.
The approved I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is valid for four months. Generally, failing to respond will force the embassy to presume you’ve abandoned the petition. However, consular officers may revalidate the I-129F petition in four month increments at their discretion. For most cases impacted by the suspension of routine visa services or COVID-19 travel restrictions, it will not be necessary to file a new I-129F petition.
K-1 Visa InterviewAPPROXIMATELY 2 TO 8 WEEKS AFTER SUBMITTING EMBASSY DOCUMENTS
The foreign fiancé beneficiary attends the K-1 interview at the designated U.S. embassy or consulate. If children will join as K-2 visa holders, they must also attend the interview. The U.S. citizen petitioner is never required to attend the interview, but it’s generally encouraged where allowed. (Embassies in some countries do not allow the U.S. citizen to attend.)
The beneficiary must take documents to the visa interview including proof of the relationship and proof of medical examination. While you shouldn't fear the interview, you should prepare. Know what to expect and try answering some practice questions. The beneficiary will generally have a decision by the end of the interview. Typically, the embassy or consulate will issue the visa within a couple weeks.
Enter the United States0 TO 6 MONTHS AFTER K-1 APPROVAL
K-1 Visa Processing Time SummaryHOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A K-1 VISA?
After filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, it may take approximately 8 to 11 months to obtain a K-1 visa. It may be shorter for some and longer for others. As explained, the K-1 processing time can vary based on the agencies that adjudicate the many steps. A poorly prepared I-129F petition will certainly increase this time line. Errors, omissions and insufficient evidence can result in major delays and even denials. Don’t forget — you can check your case status online with your receipt number. The USCIS website also lists normal processing times for an I-129F petition. If you believe that your case is outside the normal I-129F processing time, you can make a case inquiry.
After marriage, there are several additional steps that must be taken so that the foreign spouse can remain in the United States, travel, and accept employment. These are not included in the above K-1 visa processing time line. For a more detailed look, see our overview of the K-1 visa. After the wedding, the foreign spouse should seek to adjust status to permanent resident (green card holder) as soon as possible. This process includes submitting Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, among other forms. The additional forms include Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, if the applicant wants to work and travel during the year long adjustment of status process. CitizenPath can help through this process as well.