In 2020, the president issued a number of proclamations that affected those trying to enter the United States due to the Covid-19 virus. Some of the proclamations affected K-1 visa applicants who lived in the 31 countries. Some of the issues related to this K-1 visa processing were halted after an injunction was placed by a court that ruled against the Department of State’s handling of K-1 visas based on the proclamations.
How the Proclamations Limited K-1 Visa?
The Department of State unlawfully used the proclamations to stop the processing of K-1 visa to alien fiancé trying to enter the United States who happened to reside in one of the 31 countries. This was stopped by the injunction.
Was the President Able to Halt Alien Entrance?
Yes, the president has a broad power to halt alien entrance under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f). This law provides the president with the authority to stop all aliens from entering the country.
What Were the Proclamations?
In January 2020, the president began to ban the entrance of both immigrants and non-immigrants from entering the United States from the following countries if they were present there for 14 days prior to leaving:
- Iran Proclamation 9992: This was issued on February 29, 2020, and stopped immigration without a future termination date.
- China Proclamation 9984: This was issued on January 21, 2020, and lacked a termination date.
- The UK and Ireland Proclamation 9996: This ban was issued on March 14, 2020, and also has no termination date.
- Schengen European Proclamation 9993: This ban was issued on March 11, 2020, without a termination date.
- Brazil Proclamation 10041: This was issued on May 25, 2020, without a termination date.
Halt of Visas for Those Living or Staying in the Banned Countries
At the time the proclamations were made, U.S. consulates and embassies stopped interviewing visa cases. This included K-1 visas. This led to 153 United States citizens and their fiances in foreign countries filing a lawsuit against this practice. The lawsuit was Daniel Milligan et al. v. Michael Pompeo et al.
What Happened After the Injunction?
After the injunction, the Department of State notified all applicants named in the lawsuit and those who were not part of Milligan v. Pompeo that they could be interviewed. They were told to contact either their embassy or consulate to schedule an interview.
The Department of State said that the applicants named in the lawsuit will not have priority over any other applicant previously scheduled. However, phased resumption of visa services will begin once again.
Will the New Holders of the K-1 Visa Be Allowed to Enter the United States?
Not if they were in one of the countries under a restriction order. They will need to wait until the proclamation for their country is terminated or stayed for at least 14 days in a country not covered by the proclamation immediately before they enter the United States.
What about K-1 Visa Holders Who Have Not Been in Restricted Countries?
For all holders of a K-1 visa who were not in one of the countries under a proclamation order, it will be business as usual. They will have their visas processed as before the Department of State began halting visa interviews.