Mon | Jan 21, 2019

I want to marry an American

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am a Jamaican who is living in Panama City, Panama, but I have a boyfriend who lives in the United States (US). I have tried the US embassy in Jamaica for a visa but was denied a few times. I want to get married to my boyfriend, whom I have known for the past five years. If I get a 10-year visa or a one-entry visa to visit the States and we get married, would I have a problem getting a green card?

- AL

Dear AL,

The reason you have stated that you want a visa - to go to America to marry your boyfriend - is the reason it can be so difficult for unmarried persons to receive non-immigrant visas.

While a person with a legally-obtained visitor's visa can travel to the US, marry a US citizen, and remain in the States and change their status to that of a green-card holder, the US government encourages people to remain in their country and wait to be interviewed at their local US embassy and enter the US as permanent residents. To be eligible for a non-immigrant visa, a person must demonstrate to the consular officer that he has significant ties to his home country, which they have no intention of abandoning, i.e., if he gets a visa to visit the US he would return home.

If you have had a relationship with a US citizen for five years, you should ensure that you can prove the relationship. Proof includes, but is not limited to, letters, emails, text messages, chat-room exchanges, phone calls, money transfers, visits, etc.

If your boyfriend is a US citizen, he can file a FiancÈ Visa Petition for you to go to the US and marry him within 90 days of arrival. Once you are married, you can then file to adjust your status to a green-card holder.

The other option you have is that your boyfriend can fly to Panama or Jamaica or anywhere else where you can meet him and get married there. Once married, he can file a petition for you to join him in the US as his wife.

If your boyfriend is a green-card holder, filing for his wife would take almost two years. If he is a US citizen, it should take nine months to a year for that petition to be completed.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal, and personal-injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator, and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida; and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Justice.