National Immigration Forum

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Reuniting Families Act introduced

June 15, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

On May 20, the Reuniting Families Act, S. 1085, was introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), along with Senators Gillibrand (D-NY), Kennedy (D-MA), and Schumer (D-NY).  The purpose of the bill is to update the family-based immigration system, which has not been updated in 20 years.  In those 20 years, demand for visas in many categories has so out-paced the number of visas available, that some family members have to wait years or decades to enter the U.S. 

Among other provisions, this bill would re-classify the spouses and children of legal permanent residents so they would be treated the same as “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens (for which there is no wait for a visa).  It increases the percentage limit for the admission of immigrants from any one country (from 7 to 10 percent).  The bill would also allow the continuation of a petition for immigration status for an immigrant spouse or child even if the U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident petitioner dies before the immigrant visa is granted to the spouse or child.  In addition, the bill would waive certain bars to admission, and it would “re-capture” visas that should have been allocated to family members in past years but for processing delays that caused the opportunity for a visa to expire.

The bill text can be found on line here:

A summary of the bill, provided by the Asian American Justice Center, can be found here:

A similar bill, H.R. 2709, was introduced in the House by Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) and 55 co-sponsors.  In addition to the provisions included in the Senate bill, this bill includes provisions to allow permanent partners to gain immigrant visas.

Text of H.R. 2709 can be found here:


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