Adoptive Family Relief Actby Representative Trent Franks
Posted on 2015-10-06
FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and
pass the bill (S. 1300) to amend section 221 of the Immigration and
Nationality Act to provide relief for adoptive families from immigrant
visa fees in certain situations.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows: S. 1300 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Adoptive Family Relief Act''.
SEC. 2. WAIVER OF FEES FOR RENEWAL OF IMMIGRANT VISA FOR ADOPTED CHILD IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS.
Section 221(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1201(c)) is amended to read as follows: ``(c) Period of Validity; Renewal or Replacement.-- ``(1) Immigrant visas.--An immigrant visa shall be valid for such period, not exceeding six months, as shall be by regulations prescribed, except that any visa issued to a child lawfully adopted by a United States citizen and spouse while such citizen is serving abroad in the United States Armed Forces, or is employed abroad by the United [[Page H6816]] States Government, or is temporarily abroad on business, shall be valid until such time, for a period not to exceed three years, as the adoptive citizen parent returns to the United States in due course of his service, employment, or business.
``(2) Nonimmigrant visas.--A nonimmigrant visa shall be valid for such periods as shall be by regulations prescribed. In prescribing the period of validity of a nonimmigrant visa in the case of nationals of any foreign country who are eligible for such visas, the Secretary of State shall, insofar as practicable, accord to such nationals the same treatment upon a reciprocal basis as such foreign country accords to nationals of the United States who are within a similar class; except that in the case of aliens who are nationals of a foreign country and who either are granted refugee status and firmly resettled in another foreign country or are granted permanent residence and residing in another foreign country, the Secretary of State may prescribe the period of validity of such a visa based upon the treatment granted by that other foreign country to alien refugees and permanent residents, respectively, in the United States.
``(3) Visa replacement.--An immigrant visa may be replaced under the original number during the fiscal year in which the original visa was issued for an immigrant who establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer that the immigrant-- ``(A) was unable to use the original immigrant visa during the period of its validity because of reasons beyond his control and for which he was not responsible; ``(B) is found by a consular officer to be eligible for an immigrant visa; and ``(C) pays again the statutory fees for an application and an immigrant visa.
``(4) Fee waiver.--If an immigrant visa was issued, on or after March 27, 2013, for a child who has been lawfully adopted, or who is coming to the United States to be adopted, by a United States citizen, any statutory immigrant visa fees relating to a renewal or replacement of such visa may be waived or, if already paid, may be refunded upon request, subject to such criteria as the Secretary of State may prescribe, if-- ``(A) the immigrant child was unable to use the original immigrant visa during the period of its validity as a direct result of extraordinary circumstances, including the denial of an exit permit; and ``(B) if such inability was attributable to factors beyond the control of the adopting parent or parents and of the immigrant.''.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Franks) and the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.
General Leave Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on S. 1300 currently under consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Arizona? There was no objection.
Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
When I hold and kiss my little children good-bye to come to this place every week, the pain that I feel in leaving them for several days is mitigated by the conviction that I will be seeing them again very soon.
But I stand here tonight, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of hundreds of American families who are separated from their children with no sense of certainty or knowing when they will be allowed to see their children again or to know when their children will be home for good. That is because, in September of 2013, now more than 2 years ago, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the DRC, ceased issuing exit visas, including visas for the more than 350 children who had been fully legally adopted by American families. These families had fully complied with international adoption laws in both the United States and the DRC, had already spent months or years going through the tedious intercountry adoption process, and some of them had already arrived in the DRC with the belief that they would be bringing their adoptive children home at last to their forever families in America.
Despite significant, ongoing efforts by both Congress and the State Department to alleviate any of the DRC Government's concerns and resolve the exit permit process, Mr. Speaker, it is unknown when that suspension will be lifted. Meanwhile, American adoptive families are being faced with the added burden of having to repeatedly renew their adoptive child's adoption paperwork and visas in order to keep it up to date.
Thus, the Adoptive Family Relief Act grants flexibility to the State Department to waive the immigration visa renewal fees of $325 per child for adoptive families in America in extraordinary circumstances like this where the cause of delay is out of the family's control. Mr. Speaker, waiving the visa renewal fee would alleviate one portion of the overwhelming burden that these American families are enduring until their adoptive child or children can travel to the U.S.
While the U.S. Government continues to work toward the Democratic Republic of the Congo lifting the exit permit suspension, this legislation is critically important and will offer some practical relief to the American families held powerless in a very difficult situation.
It is my hope, Mr. Speaker, that the many families waiting to bring their adopted children home will receive encouragement from the strong bipartisan effort here in Congress to support them during this time, as we work collectively to engage the DRC Government and work toward the suspension being fully lifted. This bill is a reminder to them that the Congress has not and will not forget their plight, and we will not cease working on their behalf until their families are finally permanently united and whole.
Mr. Speaker, I especially want to thank Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Royce for their noble and principled leadership in helping to elevate this issue and bring this legislation to the floor.