Guess Who Might Come to Your Next Simcha – San Diego Jewish World

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 donald.harrison@sdjewishworld.com

Reps. Peters, Rooney Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Ease Temporary Visits to U.S.

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.

PAAIA Applauds Introduction of the Temporary Family Visitation Act

PAAIA Applauds Introduction of the Temporary Family Visitation Act

TFVA will encourage family reunions through temporary and enforceable visits.

Washington, DC – Today, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization serving the interests of the Iranian American community, welcomed the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Francis Rooney (R-FL) that establishes a new visa category to allow family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to temporarily visit. The new B-3 nonimmigrant visa category created by the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA) will provide an opportunity for family visitations while boosting the U.S. economy. 

“Today’s introduction of TFVA marks a two-year effort by PAAIA to bring forth legislation to address policies that for decades have hindered the ability of U.S. families to stay connected to loved ones abroad,” said PAAIA Executive Director Leila Austin. “Every day PAAIA responds to countless concerns and requests for information about family visitations. Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Peters and Rooney, TFVA offers hope that someday soon, the relatives of Iranian Americans may be able to visit the United States for births, weddings, graduations, holidays, and more.”     

TFVA would establish a new B-3 nonimmigrant visa category allowing U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to petition for their family members to visit them temporarily. The family members included are spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews. The application requires that the petitioner sign a letter of financial support and purchase travel medical insurance for the duration of stay. The requirements ensure that the applicants make specific and realistic plans for the course of their visit, provide financial assurances to the U.S. government, and dissuade visa overstays by incentivizing and engaging the petitioner in the process of the application and prohibiting change of status while in the U.S.

Currently, there is no visa specifically designed to temporarily reunite U.S. citizens and permanent residents with their relatives. Family members are obliged to apply to visit their relatives in the U.S. through B-2 visas under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). However, B-2 visitor visas lack consideration for family reunion resulting in an unnecessarily high denial rate for it is presumed that applicants with family members in the U.S. intend to immigrate. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report found that the presumption of immigration has resulted in a very high rate of denials and pushed some to apply for immigrant visas as the only path to visit their relatives in the U.S.

“All U.S. communities will benefit greatly from this new visa category,” added Austin. “Not only will TFVA facilitate reunions with relatives that are both temporary and enforceable, but it will boost our nation’s tourism industry and strength local economies – a win for families and a win for our country.”

TFVA is supported by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Emgage, United Macedonia Diaspora, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Naples Chamber, Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, Los Angeles Business Council, and the Naples Visitor’s Bureau. According to the U.S. Travel Association, each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,200 when they visit the U.S. and stays on average 18 nights. In 2018, international travel spending directly supported about 1.2 million U.S. jobs and $33.7 billion in wages. Based on our estimates of potential people who could take advantage of this new visa as well as tourism spending, TFVA could significantly boost the economy through indirect spending and create a sizeable number of U.S. jobs.