How Long Does a K-1 Visa Take? Fiance Visa Timeline Explained

Updated on April 8, 2024

When you’re engaged to a foreign national and planning your future together, one of the most common questions is, “How long does a K-1 visa take?” The K-1 fiancé(e) visa process can be complex and time-consuming, but understanding the timeline can help you plan your application and set realistic expectations. In this blog post, we’ll break down the typical timeline for the K-1 visa process, from filing the initial petition to your fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States.

30 Second Recap:

The K-1 visa process, which allows the foreign fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of marriage, typically takes between 8-12 months according to the estimated timeline. However, actual user experiences suggest that the process can take anywhere from 15 to 30 months, depending on factors such as embassy workload and individual circumstances. The process involves six main steps: filing Form I-129F, USCIS processing, National Visa Center processing, U.S. Embassy or Consulate processing, the visa interview and approval, and finally, the fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States. Couples should be prepared for a lengthy and sometimes stressful process, with the understanding that the actual timeline may vary significantly from the estimated best-case scenario.

K-1 Visa Timeline Explained

Below, we will walk you through the various stages of the K-1 visa timeline. Here’s a quick overview:

Step 1: Filing Form I-129F (2-3 weeks)

The image shows the estimated processing times at the various stages of the K1 visa process:Filing Form I-129F: 2-3 WeeksUSCIS Processing: 5-7 MonthsNational Visa Center Processing: 4-6 WeeksEmbassy / Consulate Processing: 1-2 MonthsVisa Interview & Approval: 1-2 WeeksArrival in United States: 6 MonthsThe total time for the K1 Visa process is indicated as 8-12 Months.

The first step in the K-1 visa process is for the U.S. citizen sponsor to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition establishes the relationship between the U.S. citizen and their foreign fiancé(e). Preparing the petition and gathering the necessary supporting documents can take several weeks, depending on your situation.

Step 2: USCIS Processing (5-7 months)

Once USCIS receives your I-129F petition, they will review it for completeness and accuracy. If additional information or evidence is needed, they may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). The processing time for Form I-129F can vary but typically takes between 5-7 months. During this time, USCIS will conduct background checks and verify the authenticity of your relationship.

Step 3: National Visa Center Processing (4-6 weeks)

After USCIS approves your I-129F petition, they will forward your case to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign a case number and send you a welcome letter with instructions on how to proceed. They will also collect the necessary fees and documents from your foreign fiancé(e). This process usually takes 4-6 weeks.

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Step 4: U.S. Embassy or Consulate Processing (1-2 months)

Once the NVC has collected all the required fees and documents, they will forward your case to the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest your fiancé(e)’s place of residence. The embassy or consulate will schedule an interview for your fiancé(e) and provide them with instructions on how to prepare. The waiting time for an interview can vary depending on the workload of the specific embassy or consulate but typically ranges from 1-2 months.

Step 5: Visa Interview and Approval (1-2 weeks)

Your fiancé(e) will attend their visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate, where a consular officer will assess the authenticity of your relationship and your fiancé(e)’s eligibility for the K-1 visa. If the visa is approved, your fiancé(e) will receive their passport with the K-1 visa stamp within 1-2 weeks.

Step 6: Arrival in the United States (6 months)

Once your fiancé(e) receives their K-1 visa, they have up to 6 months to enter the United States. Upon arrival, they will be admitted as a K-1 nonimmigrant and must marry the U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days.

Total Estimated Timeline: 8-12 months

From start to finish, the K-1 visa process typically takes between 8-12 months. However, processing times can vary depending on the complexity of your case, the workload of USCIS and the U.S. embassy or consulate, and any additional requests for information or evidence.

It is important to note that this 8-12 month timeline is more of a best-case-scenario. It assumes that everything is in order and that there are no additional delays. Those this is the ideal timeline, the probability of receiving your K-1 visa in this timeframe is not very high.

K-1 Visa Timeline User Experiences

While the estimate timeline for K-1 is visa processing is approximately 8-12 months, USCIS is a bureaucracy at the end of the day. This means red tape and delays. To get a better sense of what the actual K-1 visa timeline looks like, we looked at the experiences of people who’ve actually gone through the process recently.

K-1 Visa Processing Experience #1

The K-1 visa process consists of three main steps: I-129F processing by USCIS, NVC document collection, and an interview at the embassy abroad. According to one K-1 visa holder, “The time taken for the first two steps are mostly similar for everyone, and currently takes ~8-12 months.” However, the third step, the interview, can vary significantly depending on the workload of the embassy. The same K-1 visa holder explains, “Very commonly, this last step adds anywhere between 3-12 months to the process.”

Total K-1 Visa Processing Time: 15-24 Months

K-1 Visa Processing Experience #2

The second K-1 visa holder’s timeline began with the I-129F, which was the petition for a foreign fiancé(e). The receipt date for this petition was November 7, 2020, and it was approved on July 7, 2021. The case was then transferred to the National Visa Center on September 30, 2021.

The visa process itself started when the case was ready at the consulate on May 10, 2022. The visa interview took place on August 18, 2022, and the K-1 visa holder had their visa in hand on August 25, 2022. They entered the United States on January 13, 2023, and their wedding date was March 10, 2023.

After the wedding, the K-1 visa holder proceeded with the Adjustment of Status, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and Advance Parole applications. The receipt date for the I-485, I-765, and I-131 was March 20, 2023. The receipt notices were received on March 27, 2023, and the biometrics appointment notice was received on March 31, 2023.

The K-1 visa holder completed their biometrics appointment on April 14, 2023, and their EAD was approved on the same day. They had their EAD in hand on April 26, 2023. Finally, their AOS was approved on May 2, 2023, and they received their green card on May 10, 2023.

Overall, this timeline spanned approximately 2.5 years, from the initial I-129F filing to the final green card receipt

Total K-1 Visa Processing Time: 30 Months

K-1 Visa Processing Experience #3

Another K-1 visa holder, who recently completed the process, shared, “Hello, its taken me 18 months – my passport with visa is currently in the postal service getting back to me 🙂 I believe it has sped up a bit since I applied so you shouldn’t expect it to take quite that long.”

Total K-1 Visa Processing Time: 18 Months

How Long Does K-1 Visa Process Actually Take?

Based in suggested timelines and actually user experiences, the K-1 visa process can take anywhere from 12 to 30 months, with the total time depending on factors such as embassy workload and individual circumstances. It’s essential for couples to be prepared for a lengthy and sometimes stressful process. For those seeking more information and support, K-1 visa holder’s recommend joining K-1 visa-focused online groups and checking resources like for more detailed timelines and experiences.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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