Bice introduces bipartisan family visitation bill

Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) would ease federal restrictions for travelers who want to temporarily enter the United States to visit their family members.

“Allowing family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to temporarily visit the United States to be reunited for a funeral, a wedding, or to meet a new grandchild, is the right thing to do,” Rep. Bice said recently. 

The Temporary Family Visitation Act, H.R. 3215, which Rep. Bice cosponsored on May 13 with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), would establish a new nonimmigrant category for alien relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents seeking to enter the United States temporarily for family purposes, according to the congressional record bill summary. The companion measure, S. 1635, was introduced on May 13 by U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

Under the current system, travelers to the U.S. must apply for a B-2 visitor visa and be assessed for potential intent to overstay their visit and remain stateside permanently, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Bice’s office. Visa application approval is more difficult and these applications are at a higher risk of denial because the applicants have family ties in the United States.

If enacted, the measure would establish a new B-3 nonimmigrant visa category specifically intended for relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, according to Rep. Bice’s summary, and the application would require the U.S. family member to sign a letter of financial support for the applicant.  

Additionally, the proposal would prohibit U.S. family members from sponsoring an applicant if a previously sponsored relative overstayed their visa. Applicants also would be required to purchase travel medical insurance for the duration of their stay, among other provisions, the bill summary says.

“There is no current visa that allows for temporary family reunification and the Temporary Family Visitation Act fills this gap,” said Rep. Bice. “This legislation limits visitation to 90 days and ensures that the U.S. family member is responsible for the financial and medical support of the visitor during their stay.”

The bill is supported by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans and 21 other organizations.