Wed | Sep 26, 2018

Seeking green card through my children

Published:Tuesday | October 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I want to gather some information on obtaining a green card through my United States (US) citizen child. My son, a 15-year-old citizen, is currently in the US attending school. I want to know when he can file for me. At what age will he be able to do so? I also have two other US citizen children (ages eight and three) attending school in the US.

I have two non-US citizen children. One of them, who is 12, attends a private elementary school in the US on a F1 visa, and the other, 18, attends university in the US on a F1 visa.

I am currently married and am wondering how we can stay with the children in the US while they attend school. Also, how can we obtain green cards through my US citizens kids? My husband is stepfather to four of my children.

- TW

Dear TW,

A US citizen has to be 21 years old in order to file for a parent. You will be considered an immediate relative, and if you are in Jamaica, your filing should take nine months to a year. If you are in the US, your son can file to change your status, and that currently takes four to six months. When an immediate relative files to change your status, it does not matter if you are in or out of status as long as you entered the US legally.

Your son will also be able to file for his stepfather as your marriage took place before your son got to 18 years of age.

When your son files for you, your non-US citizen children will not be able to travel with you as derivative beneficiaries because there is currently a sibling category. After you receive your US residency, you would have to file for your unmarried children and the time frame for processing will depend on their age.

Based on the facts you have disclosed, the only way to legally remain in the US with your children would be for you to be a permanent resident through another relative petition or employment-based petition. Additionally, based on your education and experience you may qualify for a temporary employment-based visa or attend university on a student visa.

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.