Widespread fear after the ISIS-led terrorist attack in Paris and the ISIS-inspired shooting in San Bernardino has caused U.S. lawmakers to scrutinize the paths through which refugees, new immigrants, and foreigners reach America. The most visible knee-jerk reaction has been against the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which is actually quite rigorous and conservative with the number of applicants it approves. But there are two lesser-known visa programs that are currently being examined by public officials, too. Here’s what you need to know about them.
1. The K-1 “fiancé visa” program
What is it?
The K-1 visa lets a foreign fiancé of an American citizen into the U.S. on the condition that the couple marry within three months of arrival. The visa category was created in 1970 to allow American soldiers who’d served in Vietnam to bring back their betrothed in a time when it was quite difficult to do so.
In 2014, around 35,000 of these visas were given out, making up only about 0.3 percent of the 10 million total visas issued that year by the U.S. government.
Why is this visa now under scrutiny?
Tashfeen Malik, the wife and accomplice of San Bernardino gunman Syez Rizwan Farook, came to the U.S. on a K-1 visa in 2014. Digging into the couple’s past after the tragic shooting, The New York Times has reported that the couple had been plotting violence as far back as 2013. Malik had expressed her extremist views on social media, but this information didn’t come up in the vetting process because social media messages of visa applicants is a civil liberties issue, a former DHS official told ABC News.