Child Dies While Mother Waits for K-1 Visa

Can Giang Tran Thi was recently awarded a visa to move from Vietnam to the United States, where her fiance, Clay Riggsbee, lives in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. However, this happy turn of events has been marred by the recent death of the couple’s child, which they blame on an inefficient U.S. visa application process.

Riggsbee met Thi, who he calls Yin, on a vacation in Vietnam in 2007, and they became engaged a year later, according to South Carolina ABC affiliate WPDE. However, when Yin applied for a K-1 Fiancee Visa in 2009, she was turned down. The news source quoted a letter from the U.S. consulate stating it believed Yin’s engagement was a “sham entered into to evade immigration law.”

A drawn-out process of re-filing the visa application and interviewing at the consulate ensued, with Riggsbee making trips to Vietnam to assist, WPDE reported. During this time, Yin became pregnant, and the consulate requested DNA evidence that the child was Riggsbee’s.

The visa still had not been approved when the couple’s daughter was born in June, so when the child contracted hand, foot and mouth disease, she could not be brought to the United States for medical care, according to the source. The child died in September.

Calling the death “the most senseless I’ve ever seen in my life,” Riggsbee told the news source his appeals to senators, immigration authorities and other government officials during the visa application process appeared to fall on deaf ears. A State Department spokesperson told WPDE that no comment could be made regarding individual cases due to privacy law concerns.

According to the website of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services agency, to obtain a K-1 visa, applicants must fill out immigration form I-129F. The State Department website says that processing times for the K-1 visa vary on a case-by-case basis, but applicants can refer to the USCIS website to check on their application status. Individuals who enter the country on a K-1 visa are required to wed a U.S. citizen within 90 days.