Guess Who Might Come to Your Next Simcha – San Diego Jewish World
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO — Assume you have an upcoming bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, or another family simcha coming up, and you would like to invite some close relatives living in another country to attend. Right now it is a costly hassle for your relatives to apply for a temporary visa to visit the United States, with the possibility that they will be rejected causing you and them embarrassment, even humiliation.
Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) in a news release explains that under the current system international travelers who wish to visit the United State must apply for a B-2 visa, then be interviewed so U.S. consular officials can determine the applicant’s “potential intent to overstay their visit or remain in the United States permanently. Factors considered include financial and personal ties to their home country, as well as any indicators a traveler would 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,” a news release from Peters continued. “Their applications are at a higher risk of denial simply because they have family ties in the United States. The process also forces many applicants to apply multiple times, resulting in a new fee with each application.”
Peters said he has had “hundreds of constituents” approach his office to obtain visitor visas for relatives to attend family events. They included constituents with relatives in Iran, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Latin America, among others.
Accordingly, the San Diego Democratic congressman joined with U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, a Florida Republican, to mount a bipartisan effort to make such family reunions easier.
Peters’ news release said a “new B-3 nonimmigrant visa category specifically intended for relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents” would be created under a proposed Temporary Family Visitors Act (TFVA) that the two members of Congress have introduced. “The application would require the U.S. family member to sign a letter of financial support and applicants to purchase travel medical insurance for the duration of their stay. The TVFA requirements would add a small amount to the overall cost of a trip, but would streamline the process which could ultimately save applicants money by reducing the need for multiple applications. It would also prohibit travelers entering the country on a B-3 visa from filing a change of status application while in the U.S.”
Among supporters of the proposed legislation is Jerry Sanders, the former mayor of San Diego who now heads the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. He said, “The Temporary Family Visitation Act would boost our local economy and promote tourism which is critical as we work to recover from COVID-19. The contributions of our immigrant communities are integral to San Diego’s labor force and economy, and we are pleased to join the U..S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in support of this legislation.”
Another in support of the measure is Jason Paguio, President and CEO of the Asian Business Association San Diego, who said, “The Temporary Family Visitation Act would help ensure loved ones can visit and share in significant life and cultural events, and at the same time, would benefit the tourism industry the San Diego region is known for.”
Under the legislation, family members eligible for a B-3 visa would include spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.
Congressman Rooney commented, “This legislation will create a new opportunity for individuals to safely reunite with their families for important events such as weddings, graduations, and funerals while simultaneously implementing necessary measures to ensure immigration fraud is not committed. The economic impact of this bill will be immense — especially for the tourism, leisure, and travel industries that are crucial to my district in Southwest Florida.”
Donald H. Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org