Image 01

The Golden Door

News and views on immigration law

Scrutiny of K-1 fiancé visas after San Bernardino mass shooting

February 25th, 2016 by Djung Tran

I was interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer about K-1 fiancé visas in the aftermath of the San Bernardino mass shooting, where a young married couple killed 14 people and injured 22 others.  You can read the article about K-1 visas here:  Philadelphia Inquirer:  ”Engagement visas in spotlight.”  The wife in that couple originally entered the country using a K-1 visa.

K-1 visas are a means for U.S. citizens to get to know a potential spouse better in the United States before committing to marriage.  Eliminating the K-1 visa would mean that U.S. citizens would in some cases plunge into marriage before they are ready, as there would be no other way in some instances to bring the intended spouse to this country to get to know him or her better.  Sometimes, it is important to the U.S. citizen to marry here in the United States, with their close family and friends as witnesses, rather than abroad.  In others, the U.S. citizen wants to see how well the potential spouse adjusts to the cultural and language differences of living in the United States before committing to marriage and the immigration process.  These are legitimate reasons to want to bring a fiancé/fiancée to the United States before marriage.  The fact that the wife in the San Bernardino shooting entered the country on a K-1 visa brings new scrutiny to this type of visa, with rumblings of more restrictions or a total suspension (pursuant to one bill introduced in the House) of this type of visa.

If the K-1 program had not existed, the wife in the San Bernardino shooting would probably have applied to enter on a spousal visa after marrying her U.S. citizen husband, and would have faced the same level of security checks as apply to the K-1 visa.  So, if we choose to scrap the K-1 program it would probably make us no safer, and it would limit the immigration options of U.S. citizens with regard to potential spouses.  Thus, it would not be enough to scrap the K-1 program.  To forestall any future possibility of a similar admission, we would have to eliminate marriage-based visas as well.  This would mean that any U.S. citizen or permanent resident contemplating marriage with a foreign national would have to move abroad to be with that person.  Is this something we are willing to do in the name of national security?



Leave a Reply