How Has the Pandemic Changed the Process for Fiancé Visas?
Ever since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic in early 2020, life has changed permanently as we know it. More importantly, due to the measures taken when the pandemic first began, there have been some changes to the over-all processing and legal practices imposed by the US government in regard to visa requirements and specifications that have made an impact on the prioritization and methods by which certain immigrants are admitted and allowed to stay in the country.
A K-1 visa is a visa that is issued to a fiancé of a U.S. citizen so that they can enter the country. Once they have come to the states and have successfully been married, they will be eligible to apply for a green card to become a permanent resident. To learn more about the necessary requirements to file for a K-1 visa, click here. Prior to the pandemic, the duration of this process took approximately four to six months. With new changes to immigration policies and government bars, there has been a comprehensive decline in the number of visas being issued and time to process these visas.
As the peak of the pandemic has passed and numerous restrictions have been lifted, U.S. immigration processes are attempting to achieve a degree of normalcy. The guiding principle by which immigration visas are prioritized today are based on family reunification, that include immediate relative applications (including K-1 fiancé visas) followed by family preference immigrant visa applications.
A tiered approach is now being used to classify categories of immigrant visas in priority order:
- Tier One: Immediate relative inter-country adoption visas, age-out cases, certain special immigrant visas, and emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.
- Tier Two: Immediate relative visas; K-1 fiancé visas; and returning resident visas
- Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE special immigrant visas
- Tier Four: All other immigrant visas
*The continuation of routine visa services is occurring on a post-by-post basis and applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. embassy for updates on what services are currently offered.
Unless you reside in a country that has been affected by COVID-related Presidential geographic proclamations which have suspended entry into the United States, your application will be reviewed in accordance to the guidelines detailed above. As of the most recent data from October 2021, the approximate processing time for your application will be six to eight months and another three to four weeks to receive instructions from the National Visa Center to continue the process. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been authorized to prioritize K visas due to their degree of immediate relative distinction.
If you are still thinking about whether you should file your K-1 visa, we hope this information had eased your hesitation. Even through these unprecedent times, we are continually committed to helping our clients live their dream and be connected to their loved one.