San Bernardino Shooting Doesn’t Justify Tightening K-1 Visa

One of the rampage killers in the recent mass-shooting in San Bernardino, California entered on the K-1 visa for fiancés with the intent of marrying her fellow shooter Syed Farook – an American citizen.  From 1989 to 2014, the government issued 512,164 K-1 visas.  According to David North of the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), this is the first potential terrorist to enter the United States on a K-1 visa.

One potential terrorist out of 512,164 K-1 visas issued is not a good reason to tighten that visa’s already rigorous application process. 

In 2015 there have been four mass shooting according to Mother Jones with 37 fatalities and 33 injuries.  Your chance of being killed in a mass shooting in the United States in 2015 is one in 8,617,758.  Your chance of chance of being injured in a mass shooting this year so far is one in 9,662,335.  Your chance of being killed or injured in a mass shooting is one in 4,555,101.       

Your chance of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist in 2015 (so far) is one in 16,781,950, your chance of being wounded is one in 13,863,350, and your chance of being killed or wounded is one in 7,591,835, assuming the broadest possible definition of terrorism committed by an immigrant (Dylan Roof is was born in the United States) on U.S. soil. 

David North at CIS implies that the 99.7 approval rate for the K-1 visa in 2014, which is very high, is evidence of lax visa security.  The K-1 visa requires a lot of documentation and many steps to acquire.  The high approval rate could mean that the process of obtaining a K-1 visa is so onerous that it deters those who intend to commit visa fraud from even trying, instead funneling fraudsters to other visas and the leaving legitimate claimants behind.     

In the debate over reforming the K-1 visa, the relevant metric is the number of K-1 visa beneficiaries who are likely to become terrorists and the degree of damage are they able to cause.  One potential terrorist who entered on a K-1 visa who partners in a single mass shooting, as heinous as that crime is, does not mean that security for the K-1 visa needs strengthening.

 

  K-1 Visas

1989

5,856

1990

6,545

1991

7,458

1992

7,783

1993

8,541

1994

8,124

1995

7,793

1996

9,011

1997

N/A

1998

12,306

1999

15,940

2000

20,558

2001

23,634

2002

27,340

2003

24,643

2004

28,546

2005

32,900

2006

30,021

2007

32,991

2008

29,916

2009

27,754

2010

30,444

2011

24,112

2012

27,977

2013

26,046

2014

35,925

All

512,164

Sources: Yearbook of Immigration Statistics and FY 2014 Nonimmigrant Visas Issued