Early this Friday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the “Temporary Family Visitations Act”, which would allow U.S. citizens or residents to ask for temporary visit permits for family members. The bipartisan temporary visitations bill also counts with the support of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and it was also accompanied with similar legislation in the House, with Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) being among the co-sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives.
Currently, there are only two types of visitors visa: B1 and B2. The former allows temporary visits for business purposes, while the latter authorizes visits for pleasure. The current legal framework does not offer a concrete route that would allow families to reunite on special occasions, leaving the B2 format as the only plausible route for planning temporary familiar reunions.
The 5-page bill would create a new nonimmigrant category (B3) that would allow visitors to come into the United States for “family purposes”, an addition to the traditional “business” or “pleasure” categorization that currently exists. This type of status would allow applicants to visit, that does not exceed 90 days, the US on special social occasions like graduations, marriages, funerals, etc.
The law would also require the petitioners to offer evidence of health insurance with DHS-approved minimum policy requirements. It also requires that the petitioner sign an affidavit of financial support, which the sponsors of the bill argue would dissuade applicants to overstay their visas.
The sponsors of the bill argue that the bill would not only provide a path for legal and responsible visits to the United States for special occasions, but Sen. Paul said it would also provide an extra boon for the American economy thanks to indirect spending. Sen. Blumenthal said this bill would “make it a little easier for families to mark life’s big moments together”.
Paul has previously introduced legislation that would increase the total amount of legal immigrants allowed to enter the United States, with the Kentucky Senator proposing in 2019 a legislation that would boost the allotment of employment-based visas to 270,000 (up from 140,000) and another bill that would expand the H2A temporary workers program.
Temporary Visitations Bill receives wide support
The bipartisan legislation has been widely supported by multiple civil associations, including the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, the U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Libre Initiative, Bienvenido, the Hindu American Foundation, the United Macedonian Diaspora, the Asian Business Association of San Diego, Muslims for America, among many others.
In the press release published by Sen. Paul’s office, the National Chairwoman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly said it was “our pleasure to endorse the TFVA” while the president of Libre Initiative commended both Senator Paul and Blumenthal for “showing leadership and coming together with a practical solution to support families and local economies”.
Supporters of the bill also highlighted that the legislation provides a common-sense path for families who ant to reunite in special events while also not “simply opening the borders for a flood of immigrants we cannot possibly absorb in an organized or productive fashion” said George Landrith, President of Frontiers for Freedom.
The bill would now need to get support in both Houses of Congress in order to reach the desk of President Biden and receive his signature to become law. The bill would have to go through the committee stage, receive a markup, get a schedule for a complete vote on the floor and receive a simple majority in both chambers in order to get approved unless it is filibustered in the Senate.
With one of the most libertarian Senators backing the largely non-controversial bill, reliable conservatives also supporting the bill in the House and with Democrats currently controlling the House, it is unlikely this legislation would get voted down on the floor of either chamber. The question, however, is if the bill would get enough momentum and attention by lawmakers in order to survive the lengthy and sometimes messy American legislative process.