Hello everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week's edition of immigration matters.
I have received a lot of queries regarding Frank Pallone's proposed legislation that would permit spouses and children of permanent residents or green card holders to visit the U.S. temporarily. Mr. Pallone is a Democratic Congressman from New Jersey.
Although this is a laudable move on the part of Mr. Pallone, I do not see this bill making much headway. Mr. Pallone has been pushing this legislation for several years. According to Mr. Pallone's aide Kathy Kulkarni, "this is the third or fourth time that we have introduced the bill, but it has never passed the Immigration Subcommittee." Therefore, there is no new spousal visa at present.
Although such a visa is extremely important for the Indian community, those who control the immigration agenda in Congress are restrictionists who have been limiting immigration options rather than expanding them. The most notable among them is Lamar Smith, a Republican Congressman from Texas, who heads the Immigration Subcommittee in the House. Ever since he became Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee, I have never seen him initiating positive immigration legislation.
However, such legislative initiatives are necessary because spouses and children of green card holders have to wait for approximately five years today before they can immigrate to the U.S. Adult single children of green card holders have to wait even longer. A special spousal visa would make it easier for family members of green card holders to visit the United States temporarily while their immigrant visa remains pending for several years. This benefit is not available presently.
Whenever a spouse of a green card holder attempts to obtain a tourist visa to come to the United States, it is more often than not denied by a skeptical consular officer in Bombay, Delhi or Madras. This is the case even where the spouse has a genuine intent of visiting the United States within the limitations of the visa. Consular officers, in fact, go even further in denying visa applications of young single women under the erroneous assumption that they have an undisclosed spouse in the United States or are likely to marry one and not return.
A special visa category for spouses and children of green card holders would help alleviate this problem, and we must applaud Frank Pallone for initiating such legislation. But one is doubtful whether this new legislative initiative from a Democrat will make any headway in a Republican-controlled Congress. Nonetheless, such initiatives, even though initially unsuccessful, may generate momentum that may some day culminate in a special spousal visa. Let's hope that this day arrives sooner than later.
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This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.