Reuniting Families Act Fact Sheet

Reuniting Families Act

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. The Reuniting Families Act would reduce family immigration visa backlogs and promote humane and timely reunification of immigrant families.

There are over 4.4 million people in the family immigration backlog waiting unconscionable periods of time to reunite with their family members. The bill reunites family members to strengthen our communities and our economy. Specifically, the bill’s provisions propose the following changes, additions, or deletions:

  • Recaptures Immigrant Visas Lost to Bureaucratic Delay—The bill 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.
  • Reclassifies Spouses & Minor Children of Green Card Holders as “Immediate Relatives”—so that spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents who are waiting can immediately reunite with their families.  Currently, they are subject to annual numerical limits.
  • Eliminates Per-Country Limits—This addresses the decades-long backlogs from certain countries such as the Mexico, the Philippines, China, and India.
  • Provides Greater Enforcement Relief for Families—Allows more flexibility in addressing numerous hardships, including family separation, and gives immigration adjudicators and judges more discretion to handle special cases.
  • Eliminates Having to go to the Back of the Line—A family- or employment-based visa applicant can retain their earliest priority date regardless of the category of subsequent petitions.
  • Accommodates Special Immigrant Groups—provides relief for orphans and widows seeking a visa after the death of a sponsoring relative; exempts children of Filipino World War II who fought of the U.S. from family visa limits; and allows for equal treatment of all stepchildren.
  • Includes LGBTQ Immigration Protections—permits LGBTQ citizens and legal permanent residents in binational same-sex relationships to sponsor their permanent partner for immigration to the U.S.; helps individuals whose permanent partner is from a country that does not recognize same-sex marriage; ensure that same- sex refugee partners are resettled together; and that asylum grantees can have their non- married partners “follow to join” them in the U.S.

Take Action
Urge Congress to support the Reuniting Families Act.