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Success Story: Expediting a K-1 Visa Interview at the U.S. Consulate in Naples, Italy

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Happy Friday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we bring you a recent success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite our client’s fiancé visa to help her reunite with her U.S. Citizen fiancé despite being subject to Presidential Proclamation 9993 also known as the “Schengen” visa ban.

We recognize that these are truly challenging times in the world of immigration and would like our readers to know that they are not alone. For many, there are alternatives and solutions that can be explored by our knowledgeable immigration attorneys to help them reunite with their family members. From our staff members to our attorneys, we are with you every step of the way on your immigration journey.

For a comprehensive consultation to discuss solutions to your immigration issues, you may contact us at 619-819-9204.


Overview of the Schengen Ban

To understand our client’s situation let’s first discuss the Schengen visa ban. Beginning in January of 2020, President Trump issued a series of Coronavirus proclamations to combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus cases in the United States.

Specifically, the President signed “Proclamation 9993,” into law on March 11, 2020, which restricts and suspends the entry into the United States of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

As a result of P.P. 9993, U.S. Consulates and Embassies around the world have refused to issue visas for those residing in the Schengen area including K fiancé visas until further notice. There is unfortunately no termination date for PP 9993 which means that visa applicants residing in the Schengen area will be stuck in “limbo” at least for the time being.


What countries are part of the Schengen area?

P.P. 9993 applies to immigrants and nonimmigrant visa applicants physically present within 26 European countries including: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.


Are there any other proclamations that apply to other K visa applicants?

Yes. Entry is also restricted and suspended for immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

  • China Visa Ban – Proclamation 9984 issued January 21, 2020 – No termination date
  • Iran Visa Ban –Proclamation 9992 issued February 29, 2020 –No termination date
  • European Schengen Area Visa Ban—Proclamation 9993 issued March 11, 2020—No termination date
  • Ireland and UK Visa Ban –Proclamation 9996 issued March 14, 2020 –No termination date
  • Brazil Visa Ban—Proclamation 10041 issued May 25, 2020 –No termination date

For a complete list of COVID-19 country-specific proclamations click here.

Additionally, there are several other Presidential Proclamations that restrict visa issuance for certain classes of immigrants including P.P. 10014 and 10052 which remain in force until December 31, 2020.

For information about these proclamations see our “helpful links” section below.


Is there a way to overcome the Schengen visa ban and receive a K-1 visa?

Yes. K visa beneficiaries may overcome the Schengen area visa ban if they qualify for the national interest exception. In the majority of cases, the visa petitioners must demonstrate that they are suffering an extreme hardship as a result of the beneficiary’s absence from the United States.


What are the requirements for the National Interest Exception?

One may receive a National Interest Exception:

(1) as a public health or healthcare professional or researcher to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to continue ongoing research in an area with substantial public health benefit (e.g. cancer or disease research);  OR

(2) to provide care for a U.S. citizen, including alleviating the burden of care from a medical or other institution, or to prevent a U.S. citizen from becoming a public charge or ward of the state or the ward of a medical or other institution; OR

(3) to join an active military member petitioner in the U.S.

If the K-1 visa applicant has a U.S. citizen child (unmarried, under the age of 21), he or she will also qualify to process his or her visa application.


Is there any other relief for Schengen visa applicants?

Yes. On November 19, 2020, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the State Department from relying on the Coronavirus proclamations to suspend visa adjudications for those -physically residing in the Schengen countries, the UK, Ireland, China, Iran, and Brazil. See Daniel Milligan, et al., v. Michael Pompeo et al.

Accordingly, the State Department may not rely on the Schengen visa ban to stop visa adjudications. However, the judge stopped short of recognizing any “unreasonable delays” by the State Department stating that the government had a rightful interest in balancing its own priorities during the pandemic.


Our Client’s Situation

Following the issuance of the Schengen visa ban, our client came to us after her K-1 visa interview was cancelled at the United States Consulate in Naples, Italy. Unfortunately for our client, despite being documentarily qualified, the Consulate cancelled her interview just three weeks before she was scheduled to appear, due to the resurgence of the Coronavirus. To make matters worse the Schengen Proclamation prevented her from proceeding with her visa process since she was living in Italy, a Schengen country subject to the ban.

She and her fiancé went months on end without receiving any news from the Consulate regarding interview rescheduling. Feeling hopeless they contacted our office to discuss whether anything could be done to help speed up the visa process.

Fortunately, after speaking with our clients we discovered that they did indeed qualify for the national interest exception based on extreme hardship the K visa petitioner (U.S. Citizen fiancé) was currently facing in her absence. In particular, the K petitioner had been suffering from pronounced psychological issues having to be apart from his fiancé for an indefinite period of time, including panic disorder, anxiety, and symptoms of depression that were taking a toll on his physical and mental health.

Our office was able to provide a detailed psychological evaluation which included the psychometric scores of each disorder showing that the petitioner’s psychological state was precarious and potentially life threatening.

Moreover, the petitioner’s mental health issues were manifesting themselves physically. The petitioner had been experiencing severe chest pain for some time and a stress test revealed substantial disruption to his heart’s blood flow. The problem became so serious that the petitioner had to undergo emergency heart surgery which required the placement of cardiac stents. Obviously, having to go through such a traumatic event was very difficult especially without the comfort and support of his wife during his recovery.

Our office was able to provide documentary evidence of his surgery and subsequent recovery notes from his doctor requiring a caretaker to assist him following this major heart surgery. Unfortunately, the petitioner had no one who could take care for him during his recovery given that his father was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and his mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and could not care for him in the same way that his fiancé could. To further support the petitioner’s claims we provided documentary evidence of his parent’s medical conditions.

Our office argued that he needed his fiancé to join him in the United States as soon as possible to provide much needed psychological, emotional, and medical support. Without her help, the petitioner would be forced to resort to home treatment and visits from medical professionals that would further overcome the health care system during this pandemic. Furthermore, we argued that his fiancé could provide support not just to the K visa petitioner but also to his ailing parents. Her entry to the United States would thus alleviate an enormous burden on the U.S. Citizen and his family members.


The Result

The National Visa Center forwarded our expedite request to the United States Consulate in Naples, Italy which approved our client’s request, exempting her from the Schengen visa ban based on the “national interest exception.”

Following the approval request, the Consulate contacted the beneficiary and promptly scheduled her K-1 visa interview. Our client has since notified us that she has been approved and will soon fly to the United States to be with her fiance.


Conclusion

These results show that K visa applicants should not be discouraged. We recommend that you always speak with an experienced attorney to discuss whether there are any exceptions for you to be able to reunite with your family members in the United States. Our office diligently advocates for our clients and opens a direct line of communication with the Consulate to ensure that your voice is heard.


Helpful Links


Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.


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