On December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino California, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, husband and wife, entered an office holiday party with high powered weapons and murdered 14 and wounded 22. Malik had entered the USA over a year before traveling on a K1 fiance visa.
I wish to extend our heartfelt sympathies to those affected by this tragedy. We pray for their healing and recovery.
About 36,000 fiances enter the USA each year traveling on K1 Fiance Visas. In the past 8 years alone over a quarter of a million fiances have entered the USA this way.
Malik apparently is the only person so far to enter the USA via the fiancee visa program in order to commit an act of terrorism.
Will her act have effects on the K1 Fiance Visa program?
Cold, Vulcan logic says it should, NOT have any effect. The K1 Visa process already has many tough eligibility requirements each couple must go through.
Plus Fiance and Spouse visa applicants originating from suspect countries are subject to extra screening. This is called Administrative Processing where applicants are subject to extensive background reviews that sometimes delay decisions on their cases for years or more.
And while certainly a tragedy, statistically this case is an unique anomaly, only one, out of a virtual million.
If US immigration were to devote extra efforts and attention to prevent such situations in the future, there are other more relevant visa and visa waiver programs to focus on, programs that allow 70 million foreigners annually to enter the USA versus a paltry 36,000.
While logic says there should NOT be any effects on K1 visa, the nature of US politics suggests there most likely WILL be “fallout.
There is a saying in legal circles. “hard cases make bad laws”.
What it means is that when a case or event resonates with the public and generates a strong emotional and sympathetic response, often the laws that are rushed into enactment in the aftermath, are”bad” laws. They are not particularly fair or balanced, or well thought out, they are but a “knee jerk” political response to the public’s emotions.
The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, enacted in 2006, which legislates draconian requirements on how a fiance visa couple is allowed to first meet, who may or may not do the introduction, what requirements must be met, under what circumstances may the American apply, etc, WHICH today causes so many headaches and problems for legitimate K1 visa couples is an example of such a “bad” law.
The “hard” case was a pregnant K1 visa bride was murdered by her estranged husband. It was single instance, personally tragic, but statistically null. But the emotions and sympathy that that one case generated, caused the harsh IMBRA laws we are stuck with today.
With emotions running high, and the death toll correspondingly higher, once again there is bound to be “fall out”. Politicians who are also our Lawmakers sense the public mood, and cater to it.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has already proposed a moratorium on visas to Muslims. That particular suggestion is not going to happen, because America does not discriminate based on religion.
However, other politicians sensing the political mood, are encouraging more achievable tightening of immigration procedures. There are plenty of other methods that immigration can discriminate by, then on religion. Immigration could halt or slow ALL visa issuances, or all visas from a particular country, or particular region, or all marriage based, K1 fiance or CR1 spouse visas. Some form of law, or congressional or presidential mandates are sure to be passed down in the future.
Do you think that the American consulate officer who interviewed Malik and approved her K1 visa during her interview in Pakistan, got a phone call from the State Department, FBI, NSA?
He did. I believe the entire consular service has been put on notice, not to let this happen again even if it causes legitimate couples to have their visas denied.
At the very least, processing times will lengthen as Homeland Security (USCIS) and Department of State (DOS) more rigorously review cases.
With heightened review of each case, expect the bar for proving your Bona Fide Relationship to be raised. More fiancee or spouse visa denials will occur.
I personally plan to increase my efforts while coaching my clients to convince them of the need to work harder to follow my advice to take extra efforts to ensure we satisfy the anticipated higher expectations and requirements for their critical consular interview. We will spend more time studying the consulate they will have to deal with, then together agree upon the best strategy including communications methods, the minimum number of face to face meetings, what to do during trips, what to back from trips, and what useful and essential evidences can be collected. Finally we tell their story to best effect, while presenting the full set of evidences of their bona fides with a well crafted VisaCoach “front loaded” petition, designed to “win” the interview and gain visa approval.
I am sure that a lot of couples will get into trouble, especially those who submit no-frills applications, but I am sure the VisaCoach clients who follow my guidance will weather this future storm safely.
By Fred Wahl