US Spouse Visa Processing Times
How long are US spouse visa processing times?
Many factors are at play when considering US Spouse Visa Processing Times.
This can be hugely frustrating for spouses who just want to know how soon they can be together.
From our experience as immigration attorneys, we offer below some general indication of spouse visa processing times, but note that these are guidelines only and will be subject to a great number of variables.
Spouse visa processing times
Processing times vary for example depending on the type of spouse visa application being made and the circumstances of the case. To illustrate, we look at common spouse visa scenarios:
Non-US spouse applying for a spouse visa from overseas and US citizen spouse lives in the US
Est spouse visa processing time: If applying for the Marriage Green Card through Consular processing, processing times are generally in the region of 6-12 months for USCIS approval, followed by a further 4-10 months for immigrant visa processing.
The K-3 visa will generally see a longer processing period overall. K-3 processing can take between 6 to 9 months, with further processing of the immigrant petition once in the US.
Non-US spouse applying for a spouse visa from overseas and US citizen spouse lives overseas
Estimated spouse visa processing time: International USCIS offices can process the whole application which can expedite processing times. This service is however only available in a limited number of overseas Consular posts.
Non-US spouse applying for a spouse visa from overseas and US Card holder lives in the US
Estimated spouse visa processing time: This can be anywhere between 6 and 15 months for petition processing, followed by a period of over 2 years on the waiting list and a further 4- 10 months following priority date for the immigrant visa.
Non-US fiancé of US citizen or Green Card holder living overseas
Est spouse visa processing time: 8 – 15 months plus for petition approval followed by a period of over 2 years on the waiting list and then further processing depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, the non-US spouse may required to leave the US to make an application.
Non-US spouse, with lawful nonimmigrant status, of US citizen living in the US
Estimated spouse visa processing time: Applications for adjustment of status made from within the US can vary, between 8 up to around 15 months.
Non-US spouse, with unlawful immigration status, of US citizen living in the US
Estimated spouse visa processing time: Typically a complex scenario, potentially requiring the non-US spouse to leave the US to apply for their Green Card –precluding re-entry due to their previous unlawful presence. These applications can take around 12-18 months to resolve, depending on the complexity of the case.
Avoid spouse visa processing delays
Generally speaking, processing leadtimes are becoming longer across all US visa applications, as immigration authorities enforce greater scrutiny of petitions.
While processing times are generally taking longer, applicants are advised to do as much as they can to avoid issues or delays with their petition that could further protract processing. Variables such as authority caseload and staffing levels will also impact processing, but there are steps visa applicants can take to step up to the heightened scrutiny of petitions and reduce the risk of delays in processing:
Check you meet the eligibility requirements
Before you make any application, first confirm you meet the eligibility requirements under the relevant classification.
Financial sponsorship requirements for example are closely assessed by adjudicators. Thresholds vary by state and by the size of your immediate family.
For example, for a marriage-based Green Card, the visa sponsor (the US citizen or lawful permanent resident) must evidence income per annum of at least $21,137 (correct as at June 2019) where there are no dependant children.
This may require you to take advice to ensure you are working the correct threshold for your circumstances.
Complete the correct form accurately and in full
The forms are highly prescriptive and must be completed in full and with full disclosure.
Before filing, have the completed form triple-checked. Even perceivably minor issues such as incorrect spellings, incorrect addresses or contact details can cause significant issues and result in delays with the application processing.
During the visa interview, the applicant will be asked to confirm and corroborate the information provided within the application form. Inconsistencies will be queried.
Information will also be cross-referenced. Details relating for example to past criminal convictions should be given to avoid allegations of immigration fraud. In such instances, take advice prior to filing as additional support may be required, such as a visa waiver.
Compile & submit supporting documents
This is perhaps the area that causes the most confusion and delay for visa applications.
We know that US immigration authorities are robustly challenging applications at both the initial application form stage and the visa interview. This demands robust and comprehensive documentary evidence to verify eligibility and rebut any potential objections.
Identifying and sourcing documents that will be appropriate and acceptable for the application will be critical. Taking professional advice will help to focus efforts on compiling the right material in the right format.