Reps. Peters, Bice, Himes, Salazar Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Ease Temporary Visits to the U.S.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives Scott Peters (CA-52), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Jim Himes (CT-04) and María Elvira Salazar (FL-27) introduced the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA) to ease obstacles for travelers looking to temporarily enter the United States to visit family.
Under the current system, travelers who plan trips to the U.S. must apply for a B-2 visitor visa. Before a visa is approved, applicants are assessed for potential intent to overstay their visit and remain in the United States permanently. Factors considered include an applicant’s financial and personal ties to their home country, as well as any indicators they would want to move to the U.S. indefinitely, such as family connections or employment opportunities within the U.S. This makes visa approval difficult for those who wish to visit their family solely for special occasions; their applications are at a higher risk of denial because they have family ties in the United States. The process can also be costly, forcing many applicants to apply multiple times, which results in a new fee with each application.
The Temporary Family Visitation Act would establish a new B-3 nonimmigrant visa category specifically intended for relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The application would require the U.S. family member to sign a letter of financial support for the applicant. U.S. family members are prohibited from sponsoring an applicant if a previously sponsored relative overstayed their visa. The bill would also require applicants to purchase travel medical insurance for the duration of their stay. This requirement would add a small amount to the overall cost of a trip but would streamline the process, ultimately saving applicants money by reducing the need for multiple applications. The TFVA would prohibit travelers entering the country on a B-3 visa from filing a change of status application while in the U.S.
“Hundreds of constituents have asked my office to help them obtain a visitor visa for family members so they can attend meaningful events such as weddings, graduations, and childbirths,” said Rep. Peters. “The bill we introduced today will make practical changes that make it easier for families to be together for these special occasions while strengthening our tourism-driven economy in San Diego.”
“Allowing family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to temporarily visit the United States to be reunited for a funeral, a wedding, or to meet a new grandchild, is the right thing to do. There is no current visa that allows for temporary family reunification and the Temporary Family Visitation Act fills this gap. This legislation limits visitation to 90 days and ensures that the U.S. family member is responsible for the financial and medical support of the visitor during their stay,” said Rep. Bice.
“Our immigration laws should reflect our country’s values. That’s why I support making it easier for families to reunite for weddings, graduations, family reunions, and other special occasions. This pandemic has separated millions of families across international borders for over a year. When it’s safe to travel internationally, we should make it easier for families to see each other. I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation,” said Rep. Himes.
“We must make it easier for relatives of U.S. citizens to visit their families. The South Florida community has family members all over the world, including many that have been separated by brutal regimes in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua and unable to see their loved ones for years,” said Rep. Salazar. “The Temporary Family Visitation Act offers a practical solution to help re-unite families, has critical safeguards to prevent visa overstays, and grows our economy through increased travel and tourism.”
The bill was also introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
“The Temporary Family Visitation Act is a great step forward in allowing family members of U.S. citizens/permanent residents to responsibly visit the United States for memorable occasions such as weddings, births and graduations,” said Dr. Paul. “The legislation will strengthen our economy through indirect spending and has the support of a large coalition of groups who agree that it is time to allow family members to visit the United States under responsible enforcement mechanisms to ensure that applicants do not overstay their visa.”
“This bill is pretty simple: we want to make it easier for close family members to see their grandchildren baptized, their children married or their nieces and nephews graduate from college. As we’ve learned over the last year, it’s possible to celebrate these kinds of special occasions from afar, but it just isn’t the same as being there in person,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “I’m glad to join such a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in introducing legislation to make it a little easier for families to mark life’s big moments together.”
Family members allowed to apply for the B-3 nonimmigrant visa category under the TFVA would include spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.
The bill is supported by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) and 21 other organizations.
“Today’s introduction of the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA) in both the U.S. House and Senate marks a tremendous victory for the Iranian American community and all Americans with family abroad,” said Leila Austin, Executive Director of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA). “The current system for bringing our relatives to the U.S. for a temporary visit is deeply flawed. The new, nonimmigrant B-3 visa established by TFVA will advance the interests of Iranian Americans and countless other communities while also strengthening local economies and promoting a core American value – family. Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Peters, Bice, Salazar and Himes and Sens. Paul and Blumenthal, TFVA offers hope that someday soon, we may be able to share weddings, holidays and much more with those we love. The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) urges Congress to move swiftly to enact this much-needed legislation.”