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Success Story: How Our Office Successfully Expedited a K-1 Visa Interview Despite Schengen Visa Ban

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we celebrate a client’s 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 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 619-569-1768.


First, let’s discuss: What is the Schengen visa ban?

As a preliminary matter it is important to clarify that K-1 fiancé visa applicants are NOT impacted by Presidential Proclamation 10014 issued by the President on April 22, 2020, which suspended the entry of certain aliens for a two-month period. While much confusion followed after issuance of this order, we later received confirmation that fiancé beneficiaries were not included in the visa ban.

It is also important to note that K-1 fiancé visa applicants are also NOT subject to Proclamation 10052, which extended the 10014 visa ban until December 31, 2020.

Unfortunately, with the rise of Coronavirus cases throughout the world, the President decided to issue a series of Proclamations, which restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Specifically, the Schengen visa ban is known as “Proclamation 9993,” and applies to immigrants and nonimmigrants from 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.

That means that since the issuance of the “Schengen visa ban,” U.S. Consulates have not issued any visas for fiancé visa beneficiaries that have been physically present in the Schengen Area, during the 14-day period preceding their entry into the United States.

The same is true for fiancé visa beneficiaries physically present in Brazil, China, the UK, Ireland, and Iran.

Those Proclamations are as follows:

  • 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.


Our Client’s Situation

Following the issuance of the Schengen visa ban, our client came to us after being denied a K-1 visa interview at the United States Consulate in Warsaw, Poland. Unfortunately for our client, the Consulate refused to grant him an interview, based on the Schengen Proclamation, banning the entry of those who have been, within the 14 days prior to their entry into the United States, in a Schengen country. This client in particular had previously attended a K-1 visa interview and was found inadmissible due to a prior expedited removal order. He had gone through the appropriate process of receiving a waiver based on extreme hardship to his U.S. Citizen fiancé and was still being denied an interview due to the unfortunate COVID-19 proclamation.

The Consulate explained to him that he would have to wait until normal visa processing services would resume, for the Schengen area, to receive an interview date. The problem? The Schengen area proclamation does not have an end date.

Understandably our client was distraught. Losing hope and running out of patience, he contacted us to see whether there were any exceptions that could be made to allow him to attend his interview and finally reunite with his fiancé in the United States.

Our attorneys diligently explored our client’s situation and found that he did in fact qualify for an exception – the National Interest Exception.

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.


Advocating for the Client

We discovered that our client qualified for the National Interest exception based on several revelations. First, the client mentioned that his U.S. Citizen spouse was a registered nurse in the United States, and was an essential worker fighting the COVID crisis. Second, the client disclosed that the K-1 petitioner had a special needs daughter who needed additional care and resources. As an essential worker on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, the K-1 petitioner worked long hours and was required to satisfy a very demanding work schedule. The K-1 visa beneficiary thus qualified for a national interest exception – his entry into the United States was in the “national interest,” – given that he needed to enter in order to assist his fiancé to take care of her special needs daughter and alleviate the burden of care.

Our office was able to successfully argue that an interview denial would cause the K-1 petitioner to suffer extreme hardship to her mental health, finances, career, and would result in family separation from her fiancé. The couple prepared a detailed personal statement discussing these extreme hardships, and provided documentary evidence including verification of employment as an essential worker.

In addition, our attorneys argued that the K-1 beneficiary should be exempted from the Schengen proclamation as a fiancé of a United States Citizen, just as spouses of United States Citizens are exempted. We also made clear that the K-1 beneficiary was willing to spend 14 days in a non-Schengen country prior to his entry to the United States, and that the beneficiary could bring such proof to his interview. Furthermore, we argued that since the K-1 beneficiary had already attended a K-1 interview in the past and complied with all requirements, the beneficiary should receive an interview and be exempt from the Schengen ban.


The Result

The United States Consulate in Warsaw, Poland agreed and approved the client’s interview request, exempting him from the Schengen visa ban based on the “national interest exception.” Specifically, the Consulate stated that his arrival to the United States was needed to provide support to two U.S. Citizens (his fiancé and her daughter).

The client also received more good news. The Consulate would not require him to spend 14 days outside of the Schengen area. He was permitted to travel directly from Poland to the United States following approval.

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


Conclusion

These results show that 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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