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Representative Tom Suozzi at a press conference outside the US Capitol in December. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat from New York, on Monday urged the Biden administration to make an exception for Ukrainians trying to come to the United States on tourist visas to connect with family.

To obtain a tourist visa, Ukrainians must apply, secure an appointment at a US consulate, and prove they are coming to the United States for a short period of time, a requirement established by law.

This has prevented some Ukrainians from traveling to the United States given the uncertain circumstances in their country, including relatives of a family who joined Suozzi on Monday.

“It’s a terrible weirdness in the law that many people, thousands of people, probably tens of thousands of people are caught in right now,” Suozzi said Monday at a news conference.

Suozzi said his office worked with two families who had problems obtaining tourist visas, including a family who joined him on Monday.

“To make the gesture of having my sister there all alone, bouncing from country to country in Europe without having a home to stay, without having the support of her family, without having a real stable roof, it’s really devastating,” said Jenya Semekova, whose sister and brother-in-law fled Ukraine and are in Italy.

Semekova called her sister who was denied a tourist visa during the press conference.

“Now we are in Italy. But we think we are going to the next country because it is difficult to rent an apartment in Italy and it is too expensive, so we have to move to another country,” Semekova’s sister Kseniia Isaienko said.

Suozzi sent a letter to US President Joe Biden on Friday raising the issue of tourist visas. He has since been in contact with the administration.

“These are family members trying to help other family members, but because the law is such that you have to show you have a place to go in your home, they can’t show it because they don’t know what’s going to happen to their home,” Suozzi said.

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