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Family Immigration Temporary Visas

USCIS Reviewing K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Program in Wake of San Bernardino Shootings

RodriguezThe USCIS director tells lawmakers that the agency is reviewing the K-1 fiancé(e) visa program used by one of the attackers in San Bernardino, and that USCIS has been ordered to retroactively review such cases approved in recent years.

During a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearing, USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez confirmed the agency is reviewing the K-1 visa program said to have been used by Tashfeen Malik, one of the two shooters in the San Bernardino attack that left 14 people dead:

Now, in light of the events in San Bernardino, the president and the secretary have both directed USCIS to review both the K-1 visa program as whole – which we are in the process of doing right now – but also to do a retrospective look at cases approved in recent years under the K-1 visa program.

The subcommittee chair, Trey Gowdy (R–SC), said there is some evidence that both Malik and her U.S. citizen husband, Syed Farook, were radicalized before she entered the U.S. with a K-1 visa in 2014. The USCIS director declined, however, to delve into the specifics of Malik’s case, saying he didn’t believe he was at liberty to share that information at this time because of the ongoing investigation.

The K-1 visa allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the country for 90 days to allow for the marriage to take place, and the foreign spouse may then apply for conditional residence. Unsurprisingly, some media outlets have ridiculed questions on the Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, such as “Do you seek to engage in terrorist activity?” and “Are you a member of a terrorist organization?” But there are multiple interviews as well as checks of law enforcement and national security databases as part of the process.

For more information about the K-1 visa, see the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Guide.

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