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Success Story: Expediting a Nigerian CR-1 Visa Interview at the U.S. Consulate in Doha Despite Visa Ban

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we celebrate a Nigerian national’s recent visa success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite his immigrant visa (CR-1) to help him reunite with his U.S Citizen spouse in the United States, despite the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 9983 which suspends the entry of Nigerian nationals into the United States.

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. 


Suspension of Routine Visa Services Continues at Most Consulates Worldwide

As our readers will know, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it extremely difficult for immigrants residing abroad to secure appointments for visa interviews at U.S. Consular posts and Embassies worldwide.

While some Consulates and U.S. Embassies have resumed routine visa services, these are very few and far in between. At the moment, routine visa services are only available on a “post-by-post” basis as individual country conditions permit operations to return to normalcy. For the most part, Consulates and Embassies have not been able to provide specific dates regarding when each post will completely resume routine visa services. This has left many immigrants in a state of uncertainty during what is already a very difficult time in our history. Many family members remain apart for extended periods of time with no end in sight.

Despite these limitations however, Consulates and Embassies are continuing to accommodate emergency and expedite requests for applicants with urgent matters who need to travel immediately. Where an applicant has been documentarily qualified by the National Visa Center, a U.S. Citizen petitioner may submit a request with the NVC to expedite the consular interview based on extreme hardship to the U.S. Citizen. Extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen spouse can be demonstrated in several ways including where the USC is suffering from a disability, severe medical and/or psychological condition, as well as other unique circumstances.


Nigerian Presidential Proclamation

As an added obstacle to the suspension of routine visa services at Consulates and Embassies worldwide, on January 31, 2020, President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 9983, entitled “Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry,” which suspends the entry into the United States of nationals from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.

Specifically, Nigeria was placed on this visa ban because its government does not “adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, which is necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the United States.”

In addition, the P.P. states that “Nigeria also presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the United States.” P.P. 9983 has been in effect since February 21, 2020 and has no termination date, although it will likely not be followed by the incoming Biden administration.

As a result of P.P. 9983, Consulates and Embassies have refused to grant visa appointments to Nigerian nationals across the board, forcing couples to live apart for an indefinite period of time.


Is there a way to overcome the Nigerian visa ban and receive a CR-1 visa?

Luckily, Nigerian spousal visa applicants may overcome P.P. 9983 if they (1) meet the P.P. 9983 visa ban waiver criteria outlined below and (2) if they qualify for the national interest exception. In the majority of cases, to receive a national interest exception, the visa petitioner (the U.S. Citizen spouse) must demonstrate that they are suffering an extreme hardship as a result of the beneficiary’s absence from the United States.


P.P. 9983 Visa Ban Waiver Criteria

P.P. 9983 sets forth three criteria that allow affected nationals to seek a waiver of the ban:

These criteria are as follows:

1) Demonstrating undue hardship if entry is denied;

2) Demonstrating that entry would be in the national interest; and

3) Demonstrating that entry would not pose a threat to national security or public safety

In addition, 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

Our client, a Nigerian national living in Qatar, applied for his CR-1 visa at the U.S Consulate in Doha. Like many others, he was documentarily qualified by the National Visa Center and was waiting for a visa interview appointment to be able to complete his visa process and finally reunite with his wife and son in the United States. Unfortunately, due to the enforcement of P.P. 9983, the United States Consulate in Doha, Qatar refused to grant our client a CR-1 visa appointment since he was a Nigerian national.

After discussing his situation at length, we determined that our client could overcome P.P. 9983 and obtain his CR-1 visa by (1) meeting the three criteria for waiver of the P.P. 9983 visa ban and (2) by meeting the criteria under the national interest exception based on the extreme hardship the CR-1 visa petitioner (U.S. Citizen spouse) was facing in his absence. In addition, based on the emergency circumstances of his case, we determined that he also qualified for an expedited interview.

In particular, his U.S. Citizen spouse was suffering extreme hardship as the sole provider and caregiver of three children, including an autistic special needs child. Our client explained to us that his wife worked very long hours as a registered nurse and was on the frontlines working to combat COVID-19. Due to her demanding schedule, she was finding it extremely difficult to juggle the immense responsibility of having to provide the care and support needed for her three children all on her own, all while paying the bills. To make matters worse, finding adequate childcare for a special needs child during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic was not just difficult but extremely expensive. This financial toll resulted in our client’s wife living paycheck to paycheck and even resulting in her taking out loans to meet childcare expenses. Additionally, at times when she could not afford childcare or could not find any, his wife was forced to take days off of work, putting herself at risk of being fired from her job.

Our attorneys opened a direct line of communication with the Consulate and the National Visa Center arguing that both our client and his wife would suffer extreme hardship if he were denied entry into the United States. In addition, our attorneys argued that the extreme circumstances our client and his wife were facing warranted a favorable exercise of the Consulate’s discretion to grant the waiver, and finally we argued that our client did not pose a threat to U.S. national security or public safety.

In a detailed brief, we explained that our client’s presence in the United States was essential to provide his wife with the unconditional emotional, psychological, and financial support she needed to help raise three children, including our client’s own biological son, as well as a special needs child from a previous relationship. We explained to the Consulate that due to the visa ban and routine visa suspension, our client had not even had the chance to meet his biological son in person and had only seen him through video calls and photographs. Such family separation imposed yet additional strains on the family. Our attorneys further made clear that our client’s wife did not have the financial ability to travel with her three children to visit him in Nigeria, and that relocating the family from the United States to Nigeria would have a devastating impact on his wife’s earning capacity, and would eliminate the resources her autistic child desperately relied on in the United States.

Due to her autistic child’s condition, we argued that his wife needed to remain in the United States so that her child could continue to receive the adequate care and treatment needed which was ultimately in the child’s best interest. Furthermore, we emphasized that our client’s presence in the United States would alleviate a great burden from her shoulders, given that he would help her care for the three children, as well as contribute to the household, while she continued to work as a registered nurse.

We demonstrated that any failure to admit her husband to the United States would result in great financial hardship to the family because his wife could potentially lose her only source of income without his assistance.

Without his help, his wife would be forced to leave a high paying job to be able to care for the children. Furthermore, our client could provide support not just to his wife but also to the three children. His entry to the United States would thus alleviate an enormous burden on his wife, son, and her two children.


The Result

The National Visa Center forwarded our waiver and expedite request to the United States Consulate in Doha, Qatar which approved our waiver, exempting him from P.P. 9983 based on fulfillment of the waiver criteria and the “national interest exception.”

Following the approval request, the Consulate contacted our client and promptly scheduled his CR-1 visa interview. Our client has since notified us that he has been approved and will soon fly to the United States to be with his wife and child.


Conclusion

These results show that CR-1 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.


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