In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers some of your burning questions including whether you can expedite your marriage or fiancé(e) visa case in 2023, how long the process is currently taking, and other related questions.
If you would like to know more about this topic, please keep on watching!
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of obstacles for fiancé(e)’s and spouses of United States citizens residing overseas. As many of our readers know, at the height of the pandemic, the Department of State announced the suspension of all routine visa services including immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments worldwide. Since Embassies and Consulates were shuttered for a significant period of time, this created a backlog of cases piling up at the National Visa Center due to visa interviews not being scheduled during the suspension.
It was not until July 2020, that U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services on a post-by-post basis. Despite this announcement, many Consular posts have continued to place restrictions on their operating capacity due to local country conditions, workforce limitations, and public safety protocols.
In the past year or so, the processing of marriage and fiancé(e) visas has been impacted by this slow return to a sense of normalcy. U.S. Consulates and Embassies in certain countries have eased pandemic restrictions and are working normally, while others have struggled to catch up with the rest of the world. As a result, visa interview appointments for spousal and fiancé(e) visas have been very limited.
On an everyday basis, we receive inquiries from concerned couples asking when their visa interviews will be scheduled. The sad reality is that there are few options that can provide relief to such applicants, such as submitting a request for expedited visa processing for qualifying applicants.
Processing Time of Spousal Visas vs. Fiancé(e) Visas
In the year 2023, it is taking nearly just as long for a fiancé(e) visa to be processed, as a spousal visa, at close to a 2-year waiting period. For this reason, certain applicants have been opting out of applying for a fiancé(e) visa and have chosen to proceed with a spousal visa instead. However, not all applicants may be eligible to go this route. Some may prefer to continue with the fiancé(e) visa process, especially if they are not ready to get married right away and are seeking to start the immigration process as soon as possible.
Prior to the pandemic, the processing of fiancé(e) visas was sometimes 6-7 months faster than spousal visas. Today, that gap has closed with the processing times being nearly identical.
Can you expedite a marriage-based visa in 2023?
Yes, those who qualify may still seek expedited processing of a marriage-based visa in 2023. For information about how to request expedited processing of your case, we recommend that you review your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy’s webpage for instructions on expedited visa processing. Additionally, you should seek a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney who can evaluate your situation and determine whether you qualify for expedited visa processing.
As a general matter, the email where you may submit an expedite request along with supporting documentation is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expedite requests that are based on extreme hardship to the United States Citizen spouse or fiancé(e) have a greater likelihood of being approved.
Some of the most common grounds for extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen spouse or fiancé(e) include but are not limited to the following:
- Situations in which the U.S. citizen has a medical condition or urgent medical need and needs the foreign-born spouse or fiancé(e) for care. (Includes pregnancy complications).
- Situations in which the U.S. citizen is experiencing severe financial hardship or loss and needs assistance from the foreign-born spouse or fiancé(e) (can include loss of a job, at-risk of losing a job/homelessness, etc.).
- Cases where the U.S. Citizen spouse or fiancé(e) has a sick family member and will be unable to care for that person without support from the foreign-born spouse or fiancé(e) such as a child.
- Cases in which the U.S. Citizen spouse or fiancé(e) is experiencing mental health issues such as clinical depression etc. as a result of their prolonged absence from their partner.
Can I use the Congressman’s help or the help of any other U.S. representative to expedite my case, outside of the expedite process with the National Visa Center?
Yes. In some cases, the Congressman’s help has been effective. But in others, the Congressman’s involvement has had minimal influence on the State Department’s consideration of the expedite request.
If you have tried all other options, you may wish to seek the Congressman’s help to document the various avenues you have taken to resolve your case. This is helpful in situations where the U.S. Citizen may want to file a mandamus lawsuit in federal court to compel the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to act on their case. Providing documentary evidence that you have exhausted all other options, before seeking the court’s assistance may be helpful to your lawsuit.
What happens if I get married while the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is being processed?
Because K-1 fiancé(e) visas are taking so long to process, many couples end up getting married while their application is still being processed. So, what happens in this situation?
If you marry your fiancé(e) before the approval and issuance of your K-1 fiancé(e) visa, your case will be considered terminated. In such circumstances, you will need to re-file a new application called Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative to immigrate your foreign spouse to the United States.
Which option is best, the fiancé(e) visa or spousal visa?
This depends on your individual circumstances and your end-goals. Not everyone is ready to get married right away, and there are often other considerations involved such as family and customs.
The fiancé(e) visa is a good option for those who wish to start their immigration process as soon as possible. However even once approved, fiancé(e)’s must marry the U.S. Citizen within 90 days of his or her arrival to the United States, and only then may they proceed with the green card process inside the United States.
In terms of procedural considerations, the spousal visa is generally a more streamlined process because at the end of Consular visa processing the spouse will receive a spousal visa, and upon their entry to the United States, their green card in the mail.
Contact us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
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