K-1 Visa: Booking venues before approved?

posted 2 years ago in Logistics
Post # 2
Member
29 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Hey there! I’m in a very similar position and can let you know all about mine and my fiance’s experience with the K-1 visa. I came to the UK on a student visa to get my master’s degree and be with my fiance, and while we’ve been here for the past year we applied for the K-1 visa for him to return to the US with me so I can start my Phd there. Here’s our basic timeline: we sent in our initial application (I-129F, start gathering everything you need for it now if you haven’t already) in late October 2013, and it was actually approved really rapidly. 20 days. Ours was an extraordinary case though. We sent it in when the government was shut down last fall, and ironically the shut down actually meant visa applications went way faster. Visa offices stayed open because they run on visa application fees, not taxes, and since the government was shut down they had much less work than usual. So we got very lucky with our timing. They tell you to expect to wait something like 5-7 months for approval though. I’m not sure what the current processing times are, but you should look on the timelines and forums on visajourney.com if you haven’t already. I’m guessing the wait time is around 3-5 months though. After that initial application is approved it’s sent to the National Visa Center and then to the London embassy, and that process also takes maybe 6-8 weeks. Then once it’s at the London Embassy it’s kind of in your hands. Or your fiance’s rather. He’ll fill out some forms online and schedule a medical appointment ASAP if you’re trying to be quick. So you can get all that done in a week or two. Then once it’s all done you notify the embassy that you’re ready for the interview and it usually takes 4-6 weeks for them to schedule it. We notified them on February 7 I believe and our interview was on March 14, but times vary depending on how busy they are. You can do things like email them and say you’re available on short notice and then at some point you might get an email that your appointment is the very next day if they’ve had a cancellation or something. Then you’ll receive official approval on the day of your interview and he’ll have six months to enter the USA from the date of his MEDICAL (not his interview). You’re welcome to go to the interview too of course if you’re in the country (he’ll have to state ahead of time that you’re coming and you’ll also have to bring your passport or some ID, although I’d recommend passport. I only brought my driver’s license and they almost didn’t let me in). The interview is VERY informal. We just stood at the counter and the very nice woman asked my fiance how we met, when we met, had he met my family, what were they like. That was literally it. So our process from start to finish was:

Late October 2013: Sent in I-129F application (took us 2-3 weeks to finish it all and gather plenty of evidence of our relationship–plane tickets, photos, emails, etc. Better too much than too little). 

Mid November 2013: Application approved and sent to NVC

Mid December 2013: Application arrived at NVC and sent to London embassy 

Early January 2014: Application arrived at London embassy (I think this might’ve taken a little longer than usual since it was over the holidays)

Early February 2014: Medical appointment

Mid March 2014: Interview

Early August 2014: We’ll move back to the USA

Mid August 2014: We’ll get married

 

So our whole process was about five months in total from sending in the application to having his visa in hand, but like I said we were greatly helped by the speedy approval during the government shut down. We also started really planning our wedding in December, after our initial application had been approved but before his interivew and medical (the initial application is the tougher part. Once you’re through the medical and interview it’s almost just a formality. Over 90% of people get approved at that stage I’d heard). So we put deposits down on things for our August wedding before we knew he officially had his visa in hand and it’s turned out fine. 

 

So if I were you I’d send in your application ASAP. If you send it in now and it took, say, five months to get approved and sent to the London embassy then you’d still definitely have time to get it done before a spring 2015 wedding I would think. And I think you’d be safe to put deposits down on things before you officially have his visa in hand, but I’d wait until you’ve at least had your initial application approved and sent on. At that stage you can be pretty sure that you can wrap things up in the next three months, maybe less if you’re really efficient. I personally would be hesitant to put deposits down before that initial approval because the visa times vary so much and you never know when they’re going to slow way down and you may be waiting like 6-8 months just for initial approval. But I’m generally a cautious person and a worrier! You’d *probably* be safe to put deposits down if you get your application in really soon, but that’s just a risk you have to decide for yourself if you’re willing to take. 

Post # 3
Member
29 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Or now that I reread your post maybe you have already put in your application, in which case in sounds like you’ll probably be fine to be approved for a spring 2015 wedding. Again, operative word being PROBABLY, haha. Believe me, I know what a nightmare it is dealing with all this complicated visa stuff and trying to also plan a wedding from a long distance! Sorry you’re having to go through it! 

 

Also, as for him visiting the USA at Christmas, I don’t know much about this but I’m pretty sure it will be fine if he HASN’T received his visa yet. If he has received his visa already, then yeah, he can only enter the USA on that once and the clock will start ticking for him to get married in 90 days. So if his visa is already approved before Christmas then you might have to just do that trip alone or something and have him wait to enter the US. Your only other option is to purposefully kind of slow down once your case gets to the London embassy and he’s asked to schedule his medical and fill our more forms. Once your case is there you have a certain amount of time to do those things (can’t remember how long, but I think like four months or something) before your case expires and you have to start all over again. We kind of did this because we knew we were in no rush once our case was at the embassy. We knew we wanted him to enter the US in early August, and since the visa is only good for six months after the medical we knew we couldn’t have his medical until early February at the earliest. So after he got notification to schedule his medical we just twiddled our thumbs for about a month, no harm done. You could do the same if your case arrives at the embassy sooner than you need it too. Although the downside is that it does prolong the time until you’re certain you’ll be able to have your wedding day on the day that you planned!

 

Hope that helps! 

Post # 5
Member
479 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I can’t be too much help, but my best friend went through this as her husband is British.  It did take a long time for the visa to be approved and they were definitely worried about it.  However, they went ahead and booked their venue far in advance, as you generally have to do and the timing did work out.  If it hadn’t, they would have just gone to the courthose to be married but still would have had the ‘wedding’ as scheduled.  Not ideal, but it’s a risk you have to take.  I know they were really happy that the timing worked out and their friends and family were able to witness the real wedding.

Post # 6
Member
29 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: August 2014

liameowchelle:  Happy to help! Feel free to PM me anytime if you have questions and I’ll do my best to help 🙂 I just know how stressful it is and how helpful it can be to talk to someone who’s done it too! It’s just so hard when there are no definite answers about the timing of anything and it makes it so difficult to plan. We’re dealing with the next stage right now too since after we get married we’ll have to file for adjustment of status so he’ll be able to get a green card and work…he’s really stressed about not being able to get a job for the first few weeks we’re there. :/ The US government really makes you jump through hoops if you happen to fall in love with someone from another country! 

As for planning from abroad, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. But one thing that made it way easier is the fact that the wedding will be in my small, rural hometown. So there just aren’t a lot of options to begin with, so there wasn’t a lot of research to do or things to see and check out. It’s like we went with the one decent venue in my hometown that isn’t a church, haha. And there are like three florists there, but I happen to be related to one of them, so there’s that decision done. There’s only one nice bakery around, so they’ll make the cake. And it all pretty much has just been like that! Plus my mom and my friends have been super helpful about taking care of little things for me while I’m so far away. So I can’t offer a lot of guidance on this, sorry! I expect it will be a bit more difficult for a place like California. Although if you’re going home around Christmas I would try to get a lot done then if that’s not too late. Like I went home for a week in March and visited all my vendors to speak to them in person and get things sorted, plus I did things like bought my dress. So maybe when you call these places to speak to them they’ll respond better if you say you’re in London now but you’d definitely like to meet with them in December if you can?

Best of luck with everything!! 

Post # 7
Member
463 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

Hi, BIG hug and congrats on your marriage too!! I guess the only thing I can suggest is to keep open to possiblity it might be less stress and less hassle to get married quick (if you are looking at California, San Francisco has a gorgeous court house) and then plan a larger wedding for everyone to attend.  I’m in a similar circumstance. We compiled and put in our paperwork in Feb 2014, our approval for NOA 2 was 11/2 months beyond their suggestion of 5 months. So we hit the backlog. I didn’t get the paperwork for the embassy meeting in Montreal until late Sept/October, and we finally had been scheduled last month for our meeting for Jan 9th. Thank gawd. I hate travelling in winter, he’s flying up to Montreal from Texas thru Chicago and I’m driving four hours to fly out of Thunder Bay to Montreal…keep fingers crossed for good weather.  Getting back on track, we are pretty confident that we will be issued a visa on this trip, so the only additional hurdle is the potential for them to keep my passport for an indefinite time to complete ‘administrative processing’. Based on what we have learned thus far, we have a fluid ‘idea’ of our wedding being at a specific chapel, and having our dinner held at a nearby restaurant and a target date in Sept 2015, but given the propensity for delays, we haven’t formalized any site with a date and time or put deposits down. I guess it is one way to ensure our guest list is kept fairly low. Worst case scenario, we get married in a civil ceremony, and scrap the big wedding for the 1 year anniversary. That would work just as well for me  🙂

  • This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by  MrsM2015.
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