Important information and updates about K1 and CR1 visas. It has been a very difficult year. That’s probably an understatement over 2020 with the pandemic happening. There has been so many delays in the US embassies and consulates. For those of you who are going through the fiancé visa process and spouse visa process, you know it has been painful.
The good news is that there has been an update. Immigration has made an announcement on April 8 to provide special exceptions or an announcement for how they will handle K1 and CR1 visas.
First, let’s go into some context. When COVID started in 2020, there were a lot of proclamations that were issued that limited or suspended who could enter the United States. K1 individuals who were applying for K1 visas and CR1 visas have seen little to no interviews were occurring. Everybody was stuck in this limbo waiting for interviews and not knowing when they’re going to start again.
On April 7th of 2021, American Immigration Lawyers Association filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration. The AILA secretary said that there are many ways of dealing with the COVID crisis and the Department of State has the resources to do something more creative and responsible than to simply shut down the consulates.
This lawsuit was saying, “Yes, we understand that you need to take precautions because of COVID but completely having everything screeched to a halt and everybody be stuck in limbo and be separated from their families. This isn’t a viable solution. We need to do something.”
On April 8th of 2021, the Secretary of State determined that travel on an immigrant or fiancé visa is in the national interest for purposes of granting exceptions under the geographic COVID proclamations. Again, those proclamations were announced in 2020. We saw it continue into 2021, limiting the entry of individuals from certain countries.
Also, the Department of State has a Facebook page that’s helpful for alerts. You can check that out too if you want to see regular alerts and information about that.
The immigration journey is long and it has a lot of hurdles you have to overcome and with these proclamations that happened in 2020 and continued into 2021. The Department of State interpreted the proclamations that suspended entry of individuals from entering the United States as halting all operations. It also suspended interviews for K1s and CR1s. Some have still occurred but it was really slow.
The proclamations restricted the entry for anybody who, for a 14-day period prior had been in the Republic of China, Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and Republic of South Africa. All of these proclamations were released, then the Department of State stopped conducting interviews saying that they couldn’t schedule interviews because of this.
We now have an official announcement from the Department of State saying non-verbatim, “We acknowledge that K1 visas, spouse visas, should be able to be scheduled for interviews. That is something that’s in the national interest. For people to be able to have interviews, to be able to be approved and be able to enter the United States, to be reunited with their families.”
That is the good news. Also, it means that individuals coming from those areas aren’t going to be subject to that 14-day quarantine.
A lot of our couples and individuals in our Facebook group have had to find creative ways of going to other countries, to be able to be there for 14 days so they could visit the United States and visit their loved one, fiancé, or spouse. The announcement now says that that’s not required. We have to wait for another proclamation like this.
We really have to see how it’s applied because it’s very new. We have to see what CBP will be doing with this. Another trend that we’re seeing since this announcement, is that more cases are being forwarded to embassies for interviews. We’ve actually had people in our Facebook group say that they’re starting to see more interviews for fiancé and spouse visas. Of course, this varies from country to country but we are seeing movement. Slowly but surely things are moving.
What this doesn’t mean though is that not everything is going to resume to normal processing. The Department of State and each US embassy and consulate in each country still has the discretion to determine based on the pandemic situation in that particular country when they will be able to resume completely normal processing. Not everybody’s going to start getting interviews right away.