How do I get my family to the US?
Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
I am married to a United States (US) citizen who lives in Jamaica with me and my unmarried daughter, age 29, and my grandson, age nine. We have been married for the past 10 years. He wishes to file for us, but we are not sure about the best way to go about it. Should he file for all three of us (myself, my daughter, and grandson), or should he file just for me and then I, in turn, file for my daughter and grandson?
As the spouse of an American citizen, you are considered an immediate relative and your papers should be processed in nine months to a year - from filing to interview. Your husband would not be able to file for your daughter in this case if you were married after your daughter was 18 years old. If he married you before she was 18, he would be able to file for her as his stepdaughter and her nine-year-old son would be a derivative beneficiary.
If your husband is ineligible to file a petition for your daughter, you will have to file the petition for her once you become a permanent resident. She will be in the F2B category - unmarried daughter of a permanent resident - and that category is currently taking about seven years for a visa to become available.
Because your US citizen husband lives in Jamaica with you, he will have to prove to the consular officer at the US embassy in Kingston that he intends to migrate (leave Jamaica) with you for the US once you are approved for US permanent residency. You should ensure that you take that evidence with you when you are called in to the embassy for your interview to prevent being given a second appointment to produce the evidence.
Your husband also has the option of leaving you in Jamaica and moving to the US prior to your interview in order to show that he is domiciled in the States at the time of consular processing.
• 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.