Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update regarding K-1 litigation and the status of K-1 status around the world.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.
What is happening with K-1 visas?
As you know, the Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not until July of 2020 that the Department of State announced that U.S. Embassies and Consulates would begin a phased resumption of routine visa services. Unfortunately, this phased resumption has occurred only on a post-by-post basis, as country conditions have allowed.
For the most part, the majority of visa services have remained suspended at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide except in cases of emergency, mission-critical visa services, and where applicants have been able to qualify for a national interest exception or expedited interview request.
When pressed for answers, the response from Consulates has been the same. The majority have refused to provide a specific date as to when each mission will resume visa services or when each mission will return to processing visas at pre-pandemic workload levels.
To make matters worse, there are a number of COVID-19 related Presidential Proclamations that remain in force which prevent the entry of foreign nationals who have been physically present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. These individuals remain barred from traveling unless they qualify a national interest exception. Those who do not qualify will not be able to obtain a visa until the Proclamations have been lifted by the President.
Perhaps most frustrating of all is that on August 31, 2020, following the filing of a K-1 class action lawsuit known as Milligan v. Pompeo, the Department of State itself announced that effective August 28, 2020, as it became safe to resume consular operations at each U.S. mission, posts would have authorization to give K visa cases “high priority.” It seems however that the Consulates have not followed their own advice.
The Department of State has also clarified that K visa applicants are not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10014 and therefore may receive visas and enter the United States, so long as they are not subject to any separate COVID-19 related travel bans (such as the travel ban impacting nationals residing in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran).
K Visa Applicants Remain in Limbo
Outside of the named plaintiffs in the case Milligan v. Pompeo, the majority of K visa applicants have been left in a state of limbo. Some have had their cases stuck at the NVC for months because the Consulates are refusing to move their cases forward. Others have had their interviews with no progress being made on the issuance of their visas.
New Class Action Lawsuits to be Filed and Options for Relief
If you are a U.S. Citizen petitioner and your foreign fiancé has been unable to obtain their K-1 visa or has not been able to enter the United States due to the COVID-19 travel ban affecting foreign nationals residing in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, you may wish to consider joining a new class action lawsuit that is being proposed.
Click here for information.
Otherwise, you may consider speaking with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss whether you qualify for a national interest exception or expedite request, or as a last resort you may consider suing the Consulate individually by filing a mandamus lawsuit.
What can President Biden do for K visa applicants?
The Biden administration can give clear instructions to the Secretary of the Department of State to prioritize K visa appointments and push Consulates to increase availability for these appointments. However, it remains to be seen whether this will be done due to the COVID-19 pandemic levels around the world.
We hope with the increase in vaccinations the situation will improve and the Consulates will start to normalize their operations.
Questions? If you have immigration questions and would like to schedule a consultation, please call 619-819-9204 or text 619-483-4549. Our toll free number is 866-488-1554.
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- COVID-19 Related Presidential Proclamations
- K-1 Visas given High Priority
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