Congressman Mike Honda Reintroduces the Reuniting Families Act

918333_u_s__capitol_building.jpgSilicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda recently reintroduced an immigration bill into Congress called The Reuniting Families Act. The goal of this legislation would be to improve the waiting time for family members trying to immigrate under the family-based immigration categories.

U.S. immigration law allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to sponsor certain family members for green cards. U.S. citizens are eligible to sponsor their spouses, parents (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old), children, and siblings, whereas lawful permanent residents may sponsor their spouses and children.

Family-based immigration, just like employment-based immigration, is subject to quotas put in place by Congress that limit the amount of family-based green cards that may be given out each year. If a U.S. citizen sponsors a spouse, parents, or the citizen's unmarried children who are also under the age of 21, these foreign national relatives are considered "immediate relatives" and are not subject to the family-based quota. Since these relatives are not subject to the quota, as soon as their immigration petition is approved, these relatives are immediately eligible to obtain their green cards.

However, all other classes of relatives are subject to the quota, with the result that families may be separated for years, even decades, while they wait for a green card to become available to a family member.

While employment-based and illegal immigration are often the center points of immigration reform, Congressman Mike Honda wants to ensure that Congress is also giving significant attention to making improvements to family-based immigration laws. With the reintroduction of the Reuniting Families Act, Representative Honda aims to improve the current family-based immigration laws which have not been updated for more than 20 years, according to Representative Honda's website. Representative Honda's website also states that there are approximately 4.7 million foreign nationals who are currently stuck in the immigration waiting line and are waiting for their family-based green card.

The bill contains several provisions. Among these are the legislation's aims to decrease the present waiting times for green cards and to allow U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouses (currently these spouses are ineligible for immigration benefits). Additionally, the bill calls for Congress to reduce the backlogs in family-based immigration categories by classifying the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives, thereby exempting these family members from the quotas (just like these relatives of U.S. citizens are exempt). Importantly, the bill would also remove a number of bars to obtaining a green card for family members of both citizens and permanent residents who were previously deported from the United States.

The Reuniting Families Act was sent to committee for the Congress members to debate its provisions before scheduling it for a vote. These bill-making processes typically take several months, and it may be a very long time before the Congress decides to the vote on the bill. In the meantime, the Gee Law Firm will continue to monitor this and all other developments in immigration reform.

Immigrants and their families can rest assured knowing that a member of the Gee Law Firm is committed to their case. Contact our office today at 650-293-0270 to discuss your case with one of our skilled attorneys.

Additional Blog Posts

Senate Unveils Initial Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2013
President Obama Signs Rare Private Immigration Bill, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 8, 2013

Immigration Reform / by Michelle Gee