WASHINGTON, May 13, 2021 Today, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization serving the interests of the Iranian American community, applauded the introduction of the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate by a bipartisan team of sponsors including Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). TFVA will establish a new visa category to allow the loved ones of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to temporarily visit the United States – a win for American families and our nation’s economy.
“Today’s introduction of TFVA in both the U.S. House and Senate marks a tremendous victory for our community and all Americans with family abroad,” said PAAIA Executive Director Leila Austin. “For nearly three years, PAAIA has been a lead advocate for solutions to address our nation’s deeply flawed visa system because we recognize that establishing a new temporary visa for visits will benefit families, local economies and U.S. travel and tourism. Thanks to the efforts of Reps. Peters, Bice, Himes and Salazar and Sens. Paul and Blumenthal, TFVA offers families hope that someday soon they may be able to share weddings, holidays and much more with those they love.”
PAAIA is joined in its support of TFVA by Emgage, Hindu American Foundation, Republican National Hispanic Assembly, United Macedonia Diaspora, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Naples Chamber, Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, Los Angeles Business Council and the Naples Visitor’s Bureau, among others – a list that underscores the bill’s appeal to ethnic communities as well as local economies. These proponents of TFVA are among those that formed Let Families Visit, a campaign aimed to raise awareness about the legislation and encourage other organizations and individuals to take action in support of TFVA. Watch the first Let Families Visit video here.
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 for the applicant to 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 and dissuade visa overstays by prohibiting individuals traveling under the TFVA from changing their visa status, limiting the duration of stay to 90 days, and prohibiting the petitioner from using the TFVA if they had previously sponsored a relative who overstayed their period of authorized admission.
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.
“For far too long, our community has had to settle for policies that seek only to undo harmful laws that should have never been enacted in the first place,” added Austin. “TFVA advances the interests of Iranian Americans and countless other communities while also promoting a core American value – family. PAAIA will continue to be a strong proponent and vocal advocate for TFVA, and we urge Congress to move swiftly to enact this much-needed legislation.”
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 PAAIA’s 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.