When I first began researching how long a K1 visa takes to process, I didn’t really know how many steps were in this journey at all. Just like most people, I assumed you applied and then you got one if you were accepted. There’s actually several steps to getting the Visa as you may have figured out already. Each of these steps increases the wait time for the Visa. When I filed, the service center that I was appointed to (note, you cannot pick your center) was in Texas. It was the most widely used center and also the slowest meaning that petitions were taking anywhere from 5 to 7 months to get approved whereas petitions sent to the other center, which is in California, were approved in 1 to 2 months. Since I filed, the USCIS has changed their structure and most petitions are routed directly to the California center. Last I looked, petitions are being approved in 3 to 4 months through that center. Note, this is just the petitions that are being approved, not the Visa itself. That is an entirely different hurdle. Once the petition is approved, the process typically gets faster assuming no real hiccups in background or country fraud rates. While every case is different, this is a typical breakdown of wait time. It is pretty much spot on with my wait time. Most people who filed in the same month I did, experienced this wait length. But as I said earlier, petitions are routed to a different place so I’m not sure anymore what the typical wait is. I assume that center will eventually get backed up and it will be back to being 5 to 7 months again.
K1 Visa Steps & Time
Petition for the K1
- Petition accepted: takes about 2 weeks
- Petition approved: takes about 7 months
- Petition goes to National Visa Center to be given a case number: takes about 2 weeks
Petition is turned into a Case
- Case is sent to the Embassy of your foreign fiance(e): takes about 1 week
- Embassy sends request for information (Packet 3): takes about 1 week
You send information (Packet 3)
- Embassy sends you notice to schedule interview: depending on location the wait can be 2 months to get in for an interview
- Foreign fiance(e) attends Medical Examination: this is done during the wait for the interview
Foreign fiance(e) attends Visa interview at consulate (embassy)
- Foreign fiance(e) is approved: same day
- Foreign fiance(e) gets Visa: takes about 1 week
Once Tyler goes to his interview and all is approved and a week later when he receives his Visa it will have been 276 days or 9 months and 3 days since I mailed off the petition in January.
So let that give you a bit of perspective on what to expect. Of course there are some cases where the wait is shorter and also where it is longer, but the average wait time from start to finish is roughly 9 months. Don’t plan a wedding until at least the interview is scheduled. It would be really unfortunate to lose out on the deposit if the visa process gets stalled or a problem arises.
Immigration is a very trying situation to be in. You can’t plan a wedding, you can’t see your significant other as often as you would like, you’re forced to wait for months to even start your life, and you’re treated like a criminal until you prove otherwise. I can truly understand why people chose to illegally enter the US. While I don’t necessarily condone it, the system of which one would have to petition to have their spouse or fiance(e) come to live permanently with them is grossly flawed. Before the service centers had a bit of a change (March 2015), petitions were taking 10 months to be approved. People with spouses in Asia or eastern Europe could barely afford to see their loved ones and would have to wait almost a year and some months to even be together.
It is very important that I mention the the K1 fiance(e) and K3 spousal visas are completely funded by the petitioners. The USCIS is not federally funded for these particular adjudications. So what it comes down to in the end is lack of personnel and lack of effective training to avoid petitions taking this long to adjudicate. So in the future we may see an increase to the fee and hopefully that will be in line with an increase in effective workflow management.
Who knows. Cheers