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Fiancé visa process comes under scrutiny

Over the past several weeks, the immigration policies and procedures in the U.S. have come under fire in light of devastating attacks tied to acts of terrorism in countries across the world. Most recently, it is the fiancé/fiancée visa program.

The K-1 visa program allows people from other countries to be admitted into the U.S. to get married to a citizen. In 2013, more than 26,000 people from countries like the Philippines, China, Mexico and Pakistan received a K-1 visa and came to the U.S. Now this same program has come under fire after it was revealed that the woman involved in the recent shootings in San Bernardino had come to the U.S. through the fiancée visa program.

The calls to reassess the program are not surprising, considering the contentious debates that have played out since the attacks in Paris last month. We recently discussed state efforts to ban Syrian refugees, and now there are similar calls to reassess the K-1 visa program.

It is a complex and contentious issue, to be sure. On one hand, people are understandably afraid of future attacks. On the other hand, the current system of handing out fiancé visas is not exactly an easy one. In fact, the number of K-1 visas available is already relatively small and the screening efforts people must go through to secure one are quite elaborate.

Not only will the two people planning to get married have to go through extensive efforts to prove the legitimacy of their relationship, they will also be thoroughly screened and interviewed by U.S. officials. This includes a background check of a foreign national's political ties and relationships as well as other counter-terrorism screening methods.

How and if the current system of approving K-1 visas will change remains to be seen. What is known, however, is that the program is under intense scrutiny.

Considering the challenges that are already in place for securing fiancé/fiancée visas, it can be especially crucial that anyone who is living in Florida and hoping to marry someone from another country knows what to expect. Discussing the legal process with an attorney in order to get prepared and avoid potentially costly mistakes can be wise.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "A look at the K-1 visa that gave San Bernardino shooter entry into U.S.," Matt Pearce, Dec. 8, 2015

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