Many times we get calls from individuals wishing to sponsor their “significant other” to come to the United States. A common question is: should I marry my girlfriend (or boyfriend) before they come here, or should I get them a fiance (fiancee) visa? Usually the question is: which is faster?
The first thing one should consider is: do I want to marry before my future spouse is able to enter the United States? While some are able to come here while their green card visas are processing, it is not always possible to travel to the U.S. during this period which can be from six months to several years in length. While individuals from visa waiver program countries may be able to enter the US without a visa they face an examination by the immigration officer at the port of entry. For some the only way to enter the country is to obtain a K visa as a B visa (tourist/business) may be very difficult to obtain to overcome thepresumption of immigrant intent in section 214 the Immigration and Nationality Act.
US Citizen fiance(e) visa I-129F petition
If you apply for the K visa petition, I-129F, you can check the processing time through the California Service Center or Vermont Service Center through this link to the USCIS website. These dates are from the issuance of a I-797 Receipt Notice (usually a few days after the complete petition is received by them). This does not include time for RFE cases (Request for Evidence) which sometimes occur. These processing times are updated every month.
Once your petition is approved it will then go to the National Visa Center of the State Department and then get transferred to the overseas consular section in the US Embassy. While K visas are considered “non-immigrant” (NIV) under the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) they are usually processed by the IV Unit in most consular sections because the same kind of documentation that is required with IV processing is required with K visa processing such as medical exams and police clearances. At most US Embassy websites there is information about immigrant visa processing. Some even provide interview dates listed according to the State Department file numbering system (different that the USCIS filing system).
I-130 US Citizen Spouse Petition
If you check the USCIS processing times for the I-130 immediate family relative petition to see if the filing times are the same at the time of filing. Once again, after this petition is approved it is sent to the National Visa Center. In the case of a marriage visa petition the State Department contacts the US citizen petitioner and you will have to send the NVC the I-864, fee and tax returns. Once that has been approved by the NVC the file is forwarded to the consular section for review and processing.
The actual length of time from the point the papers leave USCIS to the issuance of a visa are not standard, that depends on the consular section’s backlog, name and FBI background checks on the applicant (this is standard procedure) and local procedures and scheduling. It can take from four months to several years, though after a year we usually contact the local congressperson or senator and ask their immigration case worker liaison with the State Department to make inquires into why the delay is taking so long.
The K3/4 Visa for Married Petitioners
It is also possible once the I-130 petition is filed to also file a I-129F petition and there are times when the I-129F petition can reach the Embassy before the I-130 petition. In this case the K visa is a multiple entry visa and allows the beneficiary to enter the United States prior to the issuance of the green card. This may seem like an added expense, but if processing times of K visas are much shorter than immediate relative petitions under I-130 it may be prudent to apply for both at the beginning of the petition process.
Resources: Long Island Divorce Lawyer – Law Offices Of Jay D. Raxenberg, P.C.