Reps. Peters, Rooney Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Ease Temporary Visits to U.S.
Representative Scott Peters Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) and Rep. Francis Rooney (FL-19) introduced the bipartisan 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 interviewed to assess 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 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 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.
“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.”
“The Temporary Family Visitation Act that I introduced with my colleague from California, Congressman Peters, is a necessary step for families that are separated by international borders,” said Rep. Rooney. “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.”
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 and applicants to purchase travel medical insurance for the duration of their stay. The TFVA 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.
“Every day, PAAIA responds to concerns from our community about relatives looking to visit family in the United States,” said Leila Austin, executive director of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA). “Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Peters and Rooney, the TFVA will facilitate temporary and enforceable family reunions while strengthening our nation’s economy and boosting the U.S. tourism industry. The new visa category established by TFVA will ensure that births, weddings, graduations and holidays can be shared with loved ones who live abroad. PAAIA thanks Reps. Peters and Rooney for championing this critical legislation and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to advance this much-needed policy.”
“The Temporary Family Visitation Act would boost our local economy and promote tourism which is critical as we work to recover from COVID-19,” said Jerry Sanders, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “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.”
“San Diego is made stronger by our Asian and Pacific Islander population, which includes many Filipino and Chinese Americans with family living overseas. In 2019, 18 percent of Chinese applicants, almost 25 percent of Filipino applicants, and over 25 percent of applicants from Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Samoa and Fiji, were refused,” said Jason Paguio, President and CEO of the Asian Business Association San Diego, in a statement of support. The ability for family to be together is a common value that is desired and practiced in many Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. “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.”
The family members included in the B-3 nonimmigrant visa category are spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.
The bill is supported by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Hindu American Foundation, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Business Association San Diego.