Happy Monday! 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 him reunite with his U.S. Citizen fiancé, despite the suspension of routine visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
As you may recall, during March of last year, in an unprecedented move, the Department of State made the decision to suspend all routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, in response to significant worldwide challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thereafter in July of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, but only on a post-by-post basis as resources and local conditions would allow.
In reality routine visa services at the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have remained suspended with posts granting appointments only for emergency and mission-critical services.
Due to these visa suspensions, K visa applicants have been unable to proceed with visa issuance, with many applications sitting idle at the National Visa Center (NVC) waiting to be forwarded to the local Consulate for interview scheduling.
Most recently K visa applicants expressed their frustrations by filing a class action lawsuit known as Milligan v. Pompeo in an effort to force visa interview scheduling.
Shortly after the plaintiffs received a victory in this case, the Department of State announced that K visa applicants who were not plaintiffs in the lawsuit and who were not subject to any COVID-related regional proclamations, would continue to have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance.
Despite this seemingly good news, many of our clients and followers have continued to remain in limbo with no guarantee as to when their local post will begin visa interview scheduling.
Many have been left wondering whether there is any relief available for K-1 visa applicants during these very difficult times. Fortunately, eligible K visa applicants may use the National Interest Exception to seek relief from current visa suspensions.
In the majority of cases, visa petitioners must be able to 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.
Our Client’s Situation
During this challenging time, our client, a U.S. Citizen was going through the K visa process with his fiancé. He received the I-129F approval from USCIS in April of 2020 and was later notified of the planned transfer of his fiancé’s case from the National Visa Center (NVC) to the local U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
Unfortunately, due to the suspension of routine services at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the NVC could not transfer the K visa application because the Embassy was not open for routine visa scheduling.
After consulting with the client, we were able to determine that he qualified for the National Interest Exception and could pressure the Embassy to schedule his fiancé’s visa on that basis.
Our client met all of the requirements of the National Interest Exception.
Meeting the NIE Criteria
We were able to demonstrate that the U.S. Citizen qualified for the National Interest Exception based on the second prong of the NIE, which allows an expedited interview to be granted where the applicant’s entry is to alleviate the burden of care of a U.S. Citizen. In this case, the U.S. Citizen was suffering from a variety of extreme hardships, including severe medical diagnoses of pericarditis, autoimmune disorders, hyperthyroidism, anxiety and depression.
Our office was able to open a direct line of communication with both the National Visa Center and the Embassy arguing that his fiance’s entry to the United States was essential to help the beneficiary cope with his medical conditions and provide much needed support for depression.
We were able to provide medical documentation showing the seriousness of the U.S. Citizen’s medical condition, evidence of his recent medical leave from work due to illness, as well as his declining mental and physical health.
Our attorneys were able to skillfully argue that the uncertainty surrounding his fiancé’s immigration process, coupled with the fact that his fiancé was living alone in a dangerous neighborhood in Russia, were all worsening the U.S. Citizen’s psychological and medical conditions.
By way of his own statement explaining his physical and mental state, we were able to show that only his fiance could provide him the support he needed for his health to improve, such as maintaining a balanced diet, helping him with his medications, and overall alleviating his anxiety and depression so he could return to his employment in a better mental state.
Finally, we argued that the absence of his fiancé was severely contributing to his hardships. If her entry continued to be delayed, we explained, the U.S. Citizen petitioner could likely become a public charge on the U.S. government.
After two separate requests to the NVC and Embassy we received the happy news that the national interest exception was granted.
The NVC recently informed us that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has accepted the case for expedited processing and her case is on its way to being transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
The Embassy is now in the process of coordinating with our client to schedule an interview appointment for her K-1 visa.
Our client’s fiancé will soon be on her way to the United States after much time apart.
This success story continues to serve as a reminder that with a bit of persistence and a lot of patience, it is possible to request visa scheduling under the National Interest Exception.
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.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.
- K Visa Processing Update
- Suspension of Visa Services & Phased Resumption
- Blog Post on Daniel Milligan, et al., v. Michael Pompeo et al.
- National Interest Exceptions
- List of Embassies and Consulates
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
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