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Counterterrorism Officials Question ‘Fiance Visa’ Process in California Shootings

Counterterrorism Officials Question ‘Fiance Visa’ Process in California Shootings Homeland Security TodayUS counterterrorism and FBI officials have raised a host of questions about whether any “red flags” were raised by State Department officials in the processing of the Nonimmigrant Visa for a Fiancé Application Visa – known as a K-1 Visa – which Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife, Tashfeen Malik, had to go through in order for Malik to be allowed into the United States pursuant to the K-1 Visa application and processing process, officials told Homeland Security Today.

Farook and Malik’spaper work for Malik to be given a K-1 Visa are being scrutinized by US counterterrorism officials in the US and Pakistan, federal officials told Homeland Security Today, noting that the examination of these records is being conducted with an eye on “discrepancies in the paperwork, the [required] personal interviews … etc.”

“We’re also looking at flaws in the [K-1] Visa process, and whether there are gaps or loopholes that need to be plugged,” one of the federal counterterrorism officials involved in the investigation told Homeland Security Today on background.

During the past decade, the Department of State has especially rigorously enforced the K-1 visa process in instances in which applicants are Russian, former USSR satellite nation citizens, like from Ukraine, or from certain south and central American nations.

Farook, the San Bernardino, California resident and US citizen who, with his wife, Malik — a native of Pakistan who came to the United States on a K-1 fiancée visa and later became a lawful permanent resident, were killed by law enforcement officials following the couples’ involvement in the apparent jihadi-inspired killings Wednesday in San Bernardino of at least 14 people.

A US citizen, Farook reportedly travelled to Pakistan and returned to the US in July 2014. Under US immigration law, the K-1-visa-holding fiancée of an American citizen is permitted “to travel to the United States and marry his or her US citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.”

After the couple married, Malik was given a green card, becoming a lawful, permanent resident.

But the process isn’t that simple for a US citizen to obtain a K-1 Visa for a fiancé; it requires considerable documentation and investigation by both parties in order for this type of Visa to be granted, especially when a US citizen’s fiancé is from a Muslim nation, according to government sources.

Indeed. The fiancé K-1 nonimmigrant Visa for a foreign-citizen fiancé requires the “foreign-citizen fiancé to travel to the United States and marry his or her US citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a fiancé visa permits the holder to immigrate to the US and marry a US citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa.”

Pursuant to US immigration law, a foreign-citizen fiancé of a US citizen is the recipient of an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé under Form I-129F, which is issued a nonimmigrant K-1 visa for travel to the United States in order to marry his or her US citizen fiancé. Both the US citizen and the K-1 visa applicant must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must have remained so thereafter. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the US state in which the marriage will take place.

According to the US State Department, which issues the K-1 Visa, “the foreign-citizen fiancé and US citizen sponsor must have met in person within the past two years. USCIS may grant an exception to this requirement, based on extreme hardship for the US citizen sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiancé, or, for example, if it is contrary in the US citizen sponsor’s or foreign-citizen fiancé’s culture for a man and woman to meet before marriage.”

Pursuant to the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA), the US citizen sponsor must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, with the USCIS office that serves the area where the petitioner resides.

After USCIS approves the petition, it is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), which  gives the petioner a case number and send the petition to the US Embassy or Consulate where the fiancé lives.

At that point, the NVC will mail a a letterwhen it sends the fiancé’s case to the US Embassy or Consulate. Once this letter is received, the fiancé must take specific actions to apply for a K-1 visa and prepare for a personal interview at the US Embassy or consulate in the fiance’s native nation.

The foreign-citizen fiancé is required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview: Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application; a passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the intended period of stay in the US (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions); Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s) for both you and the US citizen sponsor; police certificates from your present country of residence and all countries where you have lived for six months or more since age 16; medical examination; evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, may be requested); two 2×2 photographs; evidence of relationship with the US citizen fiancé; and, payment of fees.

According to the State Department, “The consular officer may ask for additional information, such as photographs and other proof that the relationship with your US citizen fiancé is genuine. Documents in foreign languages, other than the language of the country in which the application takes place, should be translated. Applicants should take to the visa interview clear, legible photocopies of civil documents and translations, such as birth and divorce certificates.”

In addition, “In preparing for the interview,” according to the State Department, K-1 Visa “applicants will need to schedule and complete a medical examination. Before the issuance of an immigrant or K visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician.”

Applicants “will be provided instructions regarding medical examinations from the US Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your visa, including information on authorized panel physicians.”

The Department of State also encourages Visa K-1 applicants “to get the vaccinations required under US immigration law for immigrant visa applicants. Although such vaccinations are not required for K visa issuance, they will be required when adjusting status to that of legal permanent resident following your marriage. Applicants are therefore encouraged to fulfill these vaccination requirements at the time of the medical examination.”

Additionally, during the required in-person K-1 Visa interview, “applicants will be required to present evidence to the consular officer that they will not become a public charge in the United States … and may present evidence that you are able to financially support yourself or that your US citizen fiancé is able to provide support.”

The consular officer may request that a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, be submitted by the US citizen fiancé.

In addition, the US citizen fiancé must submit Form I-864 to USCIS with the application for adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident following the marriage.”

“Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully or supply incomplete information,” according to the State Department, which has noted that, “It is important to give us correct postal addresses and telephone numbers.”

The foreign-citizen fiancé is required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:

  • Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application;
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the US;
  • Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s) for both you and the US citizen sponsor;
  • Police certificates from your present country of residence and all countries where you have lived for six months or more since age 16;
  • Medical examination;
  • Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, may be requested); and
  • Two 2×2 photographs.

Some visa applications may also “require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.”

Once a K-1 visa has been issued, the Consular Officer will give the applicant a passport containing the K-1 visa and a sealed packet containing the civil documents provided by the applicant, plus other documents prepared by the US Embassy or Consulate, according to the State Department, which notes that, “It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the DHS immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. As the K-1 visa holder, you must enter the United States either before or at the same time as any qualifying children holding K-2 visas.”

With the visa, the fiance can then apply for a single admission at a US port-of-entry within the validity of the visa, which will be a maximum of 6 months from the date of issuance.”

The K-1 Visa sponsor must marry their US citizen fiancé within 90 days of his or her entry into the United States.”

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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