Hours before the revised travel ban took effect, the Trump administration reversed its decision and is now allowing foreign fiancés to travel to the United States while the ban is in place. Trump’s travel ban on six mainly Muslim countries that took effect on June 29, 2017, provided an exemption for those who have a credible claim of a close familial relationship with someone or an entity in the United States. The administration had defined a “bona fide” relationship as being a spouse, child, parent, sibling, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and step-family relations.
Previously, the administration had decided that grandchildren, uncles, aunts, grandparents, fiancés, and extended family members traveling from Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan would be barred from obtaining visas while the ban was in effect. Fiancés were not considered “bona fide” family members in the State Department’s original list. Hours before the ban took effect, the State Department stated that upon further review, fiancés could be granted visas.
Travel Ban Will Not Keep Engaged Couples Apart
Before the government officials abruptly changed course, immigration lawyers argued that it made no sense to exclude fiancés given that there exists a rigorous vetting aimed at identifying marriage fraud. Foreigners engaged to marry a U.S citizen already have to prove their relationship’s authenticity and credibility by providing detailed documentation and undergoing thorough background checks.
The scrutiny of K-1 visas amplified after the San Bernardino, CA massacre in 2015 that left 14 people dead and many others injured. Tashfeen Malik, the woman who carried out the shooting together with her U.S born husband entered the country on a fiancée visa. The travel ban was created as a counterterrorism measure to allow for better security vetting of those coming into the country. In essence, the guidance was to act as a pause to certain travel while the government reviews the security situation.
And while the State Department has not given any explanation for why fiancés were not included in the first place, government officials have stated that the language used in the Immigration and Nationality Act -which was intended to help reunite immigrant families- formed the basis of the decision to allow engaged couples to be together.