Reuniting Families Act Bill Summary
Immigration is fundamentally about people planting permanent roots in a new country. It should take
into account the human need to live with and care for one’s family. Our current family-based immigration
system, including the diversity visa program and refugee and asylum programs, have contributed to
strong, vibrant and diverse American communities, making the United States the country that it is today.
Family unity promotes physical and mental health and well-being, security, integration and prosperity.
Our immigration system must continue to promote family unity and family reunification.
However, the current family-based immigration system has not been updated in 20 years—keeping
spouses, children, and their parents separated for years and often decades. There are nearly 4 million
people in the family immigration backlog waiting unconscionable periods of time to reunite with their
family members. The Reuniting Families Act reflects our moral values by reuniting family members to
strengthen our communities and our economy. This bill would reduce family immigration visa backlogs
and promote humane and timely reunification of immigrant families.
Specifically, the bill would:
Clear the Family-based & Employment-based Backlogs:
● Recapture Immigrant Visas Lost to Bureaucratic Delay—Recaptures unused employment-based
and family-sponsored visas from fiscal years 1992-2015. For future years, unused visa numbers will
automatically “roll over” to the next fiscal year. Between 1992–2009, there were over 240,000
unused family-based visas and 506,000 unused employment-based visas.
● Reclassify Spouses, Permanent Partners & Minor Children of Green Card Holders as
“Immediate Relatives”— a category not subject to annual numerical limits.
● End the Counting of Derivatives Towards the Caps— Prevents derivative visa recipients (spouses,
permanent partners, and children who are eligible to “accompany” or “follow to join” the primary
applicant) from being counted towards the categorical or per-country caps.
● Raise the Per-Country Limits—Addresses the decades-long backlogs of people from certain
countries by raising the per-country immigration limits from 7% to 20% for family-based and
● Create a Ten Year Maximum Wait Time—Provides that once a beneficiary has been waiting in line
for 10 years, they are no longer subject to the per-country or categorical visa caps.
● Create Exemption from Family Visa Limit for Certain Sons and Daughters of Veterans from the
Philippines— Honors the contribution of Filipino World War II veterans by reducing their children’s
waiting times for family-based visas.
Provide Relief for Orphans, Widows & Equal Treatment to All Stepchildren:
● Protects widows, widowers, and orphans by allowing them to continue to wait in line for a visa after
the death of a sponsoring relative.
● Affords the same protection to the children of fiancés of U.S. citizens, preventing them from aging out
of the visa application process that other married immigrant visa holders have pursuant to the Child
Status Protection Act.
● Provides equal treatment for stepchildren by allowing stepchildren under the age of 21 to be
reclassified as “immediate relatives” upon their parent’s marriage or permanent partnership
(current age limit is 18).
Provide Greater Enforcement Relief to Reunify & Keep Families Together:
● Repeals the three- and ten-year bars, as well as the permanent bar on admission for individuals
unlawfully present in the United States from adjusting to legal status.
● Narrows the instances of inadmissibility or deportability for those who willfully misrepresent
(versus falsely represent) himself or herself to be a citizen of the United States by accepting any alien
under the age of 21 at the time of making the willful misrepresentation.
● Increases the government’s discretion and flexibility in waiving grounds of inadmissibility or
deportability in the case of an immigrant who is the parent, spouse, permanent partner, son or
daughter of a citizen or LPR, in instances that would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety,
or security of the United States, or for humanitarian purposes, family unity, or public interest.
Provide Relief for Spouses, Permanent Partners, and Children on H-4 Visas:
● Allows spouses, permanent partners, and children of H1-B visa holders to contribute to the economy
with work authorization.
● Prevents the children of H1-B visa holders from aging out of the H-4 visa or adjustment of status
application by freezing the age of the child on the date the employment-based petition is filed.
Eliminate Discrimination Facing LGBTQ Families Throughout Our Immigration Laws:
● Permits U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents in binational same-sex relationships to sponsor
their permanent partner for immigration to the U.S. This bill would help individuals whose
permanent partner is from a country that does not recognize same-sex marriage. It would also
ensure that same-sex refugee partners are resettled together and that asylum grantees can have
their nonmarried partners “follow to join” them in the U.S.
● Extends acquired automatic citizenship to children with at least one U.S. citizen parent regardless of
a biological relationship to that parent. These provisions apply to children born through Assisted
Reproductive Technology and children adopted within the first year of their life.
Ensure Retention of Priority Dates:
● The bill corrects a drafting error in the Child Status Protection Act to protect children from aging out
of the visa application as a result of processing delays on the part of the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services or the Department of State.
● It provides that a beneficiary of any family or employment-based petition shall retain his or her
earliest priority date regardless of the category of subsequent petitions.
Embrace the Diversity Visa Program
● The bill increases the number of green cards provided through the diversity visa program by
increasing the cap from 55,000 to 80,000 visa and no longer counting spouses and children,
accompanying or following to join, under the cap.
Adhikaar African American Ministers in Action API Equality-LA API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC APIA Vote-Michigan APIENC (API Equality - Northern California) Arab Association of New York Asian-American Federation Asian Ameican Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Asian American Organizing Project Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC, ALC, Atlanta, Chicago, LA) Asian Ameicans United Asian Counseling and Referral Service Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence Asian Services in Action Inc. (ASIA, Inc.) Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations Black Alliance for Just Immigration CAIR California California League of United Latin American Citizens Center for Health Progress Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC) CASA CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers Chula Vista Partners in Courage Church World Service Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) Coalition on Human Needs Colorado People's Alliance Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) CT Shoreline Indivisible Immigration & Refugee Action Team DC-MD Justice for Our Neigbors Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries Dolores Street Commujnity Services Dream Team Los Angeles Emgage Action Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) Equality California Equality Northern Carolina Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Faiths for Safe Water First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, UCC Food Empowerment Project FORGE Inc. Franciscan Action Network Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, US Area Franciscans for Justice Freedom Road, LLC Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA) HANA Center Hispanic Federation Immigrant Legal Resource Center Indivisible Indivisble Sausalito International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) KIWA (Korean Immigrant Workers Alliance) Korean Resource Center Laotian American National Alliance Leadership Conference of Women Religious League of Women Voters of the United States Littile Portion Secular Franciscan Fraternity - Marshall, MN Los Angeles LGBT Center LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network) Maryland United for Peace and Justice Muslim Community Network Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) National Asian Pacific American Bar Association NAPAFASA National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) National Center for Transgender Equaltiy National Council of Asian Pacific Americans National Council of Churches National Education Association National Immigration Law Center National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund National Patnership for New Americans National Queer Asia Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) National Tongan American Society NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice New York Immigration Coalition North American Asian/Pacific Disciples North Carolina Asian Americans Toghether (NCAAT) Noth Carolina Council of Churches OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates OneAmerica Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ Fort Collins, CO Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order The Revolutionary Love Project SALDEF Satrang Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN) Sierra Club Silver State Equality-Nevada South Asian Americans Leading Togerhter (SAALT) Southeast Asia Resource Action Center St. Barnabas Episcopal Church St. John's Presbyterian Church SURJ Marin - Showing Up for Racial Justice (California) T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition The Undocublack Network UnidosUS The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society United Mehtodist Immigration Task Force United we DREAM URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Wetern North Caolina Sanctuary Movement WHEATON FRANCISCANS Whitman-Walker Health Wisconsom Faith Voices for Justice Woodhull Freedom Foundation Yemini American Merchants Association