If you do everything correctly in your case, and are not from a country which USCIS considers to be a high fraud area, then the current wait time (middle of 2019) should be about 10 months. While some of our cases are finishing sooner than 10 months this is not the standard. Currently, most of our fiance visa cases are finishing in that range.
This article will break down the fiance visa processing time and explain what to expect at all 3 phases of the fiance visa process.
The above wait time assumes that you are filing a quality petition. If you have mistakes, you are missing evidence or have other problems in your case then the case will take longer.
If you need to wait a bit longer to file your case, in order to file a higher quality petition (because your relationship is new or for another reason) then wait the extra time to file.
Here is a rough timeline:
The case is filed with USCIS.
You should receive the first Notice of Action (NOA 1) within 30 days. This lets you know that USCIS has received your packet and that they are working on the case.
You should receive your USCIS approval (NOA 2) sometime in the next 5-7 months. The case will then be sent to the National Visa Center.
At the National Visa Center level your case will be assigned a new Department of State case number. After the National Visa Center assigns a new case number, has you provide their required documents, and does a background check, your case will be sent to the local American embassy or consulate in your fiance’s home country. This local consulate or embassy will process the remaining part of the fiance visa case.
Your fiance should have his or her interview, at the consulate or embassy, sometime within the next month or two. It will depend, mostly, on the number of cases that are being processed, at that particular time, at that particular embassy or consulate.
Embassies and consulates vary concerning the documents they will want you to provide at the interview. However, they will give you specific instructions as to what documents and forms they require.
Fiance Visa Interview
Your fiance should know you very well in order to have a successful interview. She should know about your life in the United States. She should know where you live, what kind of work you do, and all about your family . If you have a criminal past she should know about this and not find out about it at the interview. In addition, she should know about any past marriages. You may wish to read our article about the key things to know about the fiance visa interview process. You may also want to study the fiance visa interview questions.
If they are satisfied with the documents and the interview goes well the fiance visa will be issued. If the interview does not go well you may have to refile the whole case and start over or you may want to consider a different option.
If the fiance visa is granted then approval should come within a week.
In 2019, for most cases, the total processing time is running close to 9-10 months in most cases. Some cases, however, will process a bit shorter and, more likely, some a bit longer. Unfortunately, I expect the overall wait time for fiance visa cases, as well as many other immigration cases, to extend in the coming months.
You will receive a sealed packet that must not be opened until you come to your port of entry. You can read about the sealed packet and other information about what you should do after your interview on the U.S. State Department’s website.
Once you enter the United States you will have 90 days to marry your U.S. Citizen fiance. Your fiance will then file for your green card via a process called adjustment of status. The processing of your green card will take place in the United States.
Currently overall wait times for adjustment of status vary from office to office in the United States. You would want to do some research to determine the wait at your local office. As a rule of thumb I would expect the wait time to be in the 6-14 month range from start to finish.
If you would like much more information about the fiance visa process make sure to read our popular blog post: Ten Things You Should Know About the Fiance Visa Process.
Fiance Visa Denial Rates
In 2019 the overall denial rate for fiance visas is close to 50%. This denial rate factors all fiance visas cases filed nationwide. This denial rate includes all cases filed by individuals, paralegals and immigration consultants, and attorneys. (Almost 100% of our fiance visa cases filed during the current administration have been approved but that is no guarantee of future results).
Fiance visa cases overall were routinely approved just a few years ago. The overall approval rate at that time was in the 90% range. However, due to policy changes, today it is much more likely that a fiance visa case will be denied. (See our blog post on fiance visa denial rates)Therefore, it is important than ever to file a quality fiance visa petition and make sure you handle your case correctly from start to finish.
I have been asked this question many times over the years. Many U.S. Citizens are ready willing and able to pay an extra $1000 or more to USCIS in filing fees if their fiance can come to the United States sooner. While there is a way to see if your H-1b case can process sooner by paying extra fees (premium processing) unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, this option is not available for k-1 fiance visa cases. This could change but I do not believe it will change.
As of today premium processing is not available in fiance visa cases. The best way to bring your fiance here as soon as possible is to retain a quality law firm which is not going to make mistakes to delay your case and will prepare your fiance for her interview. The law firm will also be able to anticipate and resolve any trouble areas (most cases have one or more trouble areas) prior to your case being filed and also resolve any issues should they arise in your case.
The Wait Time is Longer Than I Have Been Told
The fiance visa process is 3 stages long. Your case will go through the USCIS, National Visa Center and finally embassy/consulate stages. You should get initial USCIS approval within 5-7 months (depending on the office and the backlog). This does not mean that the overall case has been approved. It only means that the first of three hurdles has been successfully passed. You still have 2 more hurdles to pass. Many times people have been told, for a variety of reasons, that USCIS approval means that their loved one will be coming to the U.S. immediately. Unfortunately this is not true as there is still more processing to do in the case.
Should I save money by filing the case myself or using a non-attorney helper?
Over the years I have tried to help people who have gone this route and run into problems. While it is true sometimes fiance visa cases can be processed without the help of an attorney. Many times cases are needlessly delayed or even denied simply due to mistakes that should have been avoided.
In addition, if you enlist the help of an outside source, you should realize that attorney-client privilege only applies to attorneys and not to helpers like paralegals, notarios or immigration consultants.
Also, do you really want to turn over your social security number, tax returns, or other sensitive information to someone who may be unlicensed, unregulated or uninsured? Please also realize that if something goes wrong during the 10 months it takes to process your fiance visa the government agencies involved will not talk to your helper about your case.
Our office does not charge a consultation fee to consult with you on your potential case. We can help you with all phases of your case or can handle your complete case. Call or email us for a free consultation.
Lawrence Gruner is a Sacramento Immigration Lawyer with over 20 years of experience handling fiance visa, marriage green card, and U.S. Citizenship cases. His office is located in downtown Sacramento California. His office handles fiance visa cases in California, the United States and the World. He would be happy to talk to you about your fiance visa case.
You can email him at email@example.com or call him at 916-760-7270 or 888-801-6558. There is no charge for him to consult with you about your fiance visa case. He can go over the fiance visa option and other possible options with you to determine your best course of action.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Laws and filing fees amounts can and do change. Because the consequences of a poorly prepared fiance visa are so great always speak to an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing any paperwork with USCIS. We wish you all the best.
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