American Family Visas and the Violence Against Women Act

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The next publication was written to provide information on how the changes to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) may affect the process of obtaining a US visa for a foreign relative.

The Violence Against Women Act was created with the aim of reducing the domestic brutality suffered by women in the United States of America. In the context of immigration, there was a time when the law on violence against women had only little impact on people applying for a visa for a foreign loved one . This state of affairs has changed when adopting an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act. This amendment is commonly referred to as the Marriage Intermediary Regulation Act.

The International Marriage Regulation Act (IMBRA) appears to be fundamentally about matchmakers and other services that charge fees to place foreign women in American men. However, some key provisions contained in the provisions of this legislation have a significant impact on those seeking a K-1 fiance visa. For example, the provisions of an amendment to the Violence against Women Act, known as the International Marriage Brokerage Regulation Act (IMBRA), have changed the rules on the number of K-1 visas for which a petitioner could ask for a period of two years. Prior to the adoption of the International Marriage Regulation Act (IMBRA), it was theoretically possible for a US citizen to submit applications for a virtually infinite number of K-1 visas for a virtually infinite number of beneficiaries. This has apparently led to a situation in which some US citizens have applied for a large number of K-1 visas for many different beneficiaries over a relatively short period of time. It appears that women's rights groups and the United States Congress have found this situation both unacceptable and untenable. As a result, the Law on the Regulation of International Marriages (IMBRA) was promulgated. Now, K-1 visa applicants can only apply for one (1) visa of this type every twenty-four (24) months without having to process a waiver. United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Those wishing to apply for more than one K-1 visa within twenty-four (24) months will need to obtain a waiver from the USCIS to be able to do so.

There has been speculation as to how this legislation could affect people seeking a non-immigrant K-3 marriage visa. For practical reasons, at the time of writing this, this question was rather pointless, as the National Visa Center (NVC) currently applies a policy of "administrative closure" of all K-3 visa applications if the underlying I-130 application is examined before or at the same time as the K-3 visa application. The USCIS backlog is relatively small compared to its past, so many immigrant visa applications are reviewed before their counterparts at the K-3. As a result, K-3 visas are becoming rare in the context of immigration and the likelihood of two K-3 petitions not "administratively closed" within twenty-four (24) months is highly unlikely.


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