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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fiancees Stuck in U.S. Visa Backlog

A visa backlog at the U.S. Embassy is creating headaches for a number of men in the United States who have been waiting weeks -- and in some cases months -- for their Russian fiancees to get the papers they need to leave Russia.

At least 145 Americans have had to wait for their fiancees to be granted K-1 visas, which are issued to people who would like to come to the United States to marry U.S. citizens, said Mike Kilpatrick of Houston who has been waiting for almost three months and corresponds with other perplexed would-be husbands on the Internet.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed late last week that there has been a slowdown with issuing some categories of visas since new worldwide security checks were introduced in July in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The delays are part of a worldwide backlog that is especially pronounced in Russia and China, even though their citizens have not been linked to the attacks, The New York Times reported Sunday. Foreign exchange students and scientists have also been stymied by the delays, the newspaper said.

Kilpatrick, 45, said the delay was frustrating because neither he nor his fiancee were warned of new security procedures when she went to the embassy for an interview July 22. He said that after the interview the embassy approved the visa for his fiancee, a Chelyabinsk native.

Previously, visas were issued within a day of a successful interview.

"My fiancee has sold her home, her car, her belongings and quit her job in the belief that she would be flying to the United States on July 31. Still she is waiting in Moscow in a friend's apartment," said Kilpatrick, a computer systems engineer who met his fiancee through an Internet dating service in 1999.

"This stoppage has created many financial and emotional hardships placed on not only the women in Russia but the men here in the United States as well," he said.

Tracy Wright of Birmingham, Alabama, said he is facing a similar problem after his fiancee's visa was approved after an interview on Sept. 6. "[We] are being unjustly kept away from ... [our] loved ones. And we are unable to make very important plans that need to be tended to," Wright said in an e-mail.

U.S. Consul General James Warlick said those complaining about delayed visas were caught in a backlog that he hopes will be cleared soon. He said the new security procedures were not being applied specifically to Russia or to fiancees and that some K-1 visas have been issued since July 22.

"These are worldwide security procedures that apply in many countries and affect many individuals," he said. "And it is not only fiancees, but many other visa categories are also affected."

He stressed that the procedures were in place to screen out terrorists and individuals who wish to do harm to the United States.

Kilpatrick said the embassy at first told him the delay was due to administration problems, not new security measures. "I call the embassy about every week, and every week they tell me to call back next week or in some cases in two weeks," he said. "Initially they told us absolutely nothing."

Warlick said that once an applicant passes the interview, he or she is eligible for a visa. But there is no guarantee that the applicant will then quickly clear the security procedures, he said.

He said 2,300 K-1 visas were issued between September 2001 and September 2002, adding that a very small number of applicants were denied visas. He did not give an exact figure.

Warlick said relationships and the reunification of families were a priority among visa applicants. "But we need to ensure that there is a relationship with an American citizen," he said.

He said a marriage-minded applicant should allow several months to receive a visa, and the process from application to getting on the plane would only take more than six months if an applicant improperly filed the paperwork.

He said that when the new measures are fully in place, security screening will be conducted ahead of the interviews.