Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Have my chances expired?

Published:Tuesday | February 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM
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My father, who is a United States (US) citizen, had petitioned for me to migrate to the States as a permanent resident. I went to the interview at the US Embassy in Kingston in 2008 and everything was OK, except for the fact that they required a DNA test to confirm the relation as my father's name was added to my birth certificate when I was in my teens.

He proceeded to get the test done, however, he advised me subsequently that he had paid some money to a man in the US to have the process completed, after which the man could not be contacted by phone or otherwise. The matter lingered until the deadline passed.

I am now really interested in migrating, so could you tell me what I should do and my chances of success, if any?

- RG

Dear RG,

Normally, when a father is not married to the mother of his child, and/or his name is added late to the child's birth certificate, the US government requires a DNA test to prove paternity. There have been several different procedures utilised by the US Embassy in Kingston over the years to facilitate the DNA test. Currently, the person in the US has to have his or her DNA sample taken at a US embassy/US Citizenship & Immigration Services-approved laboratory in the US; and the person in Jamaica has to have his or her sample taken at the embassy.

In 2008, when your request was issued, there was a different process in place. Your letter does not indicate if you had your DNA sample taken under whatever procedure was in place in 2008. If you and your father had followed the procedure, the result of both samples would have been sent to the US embassy and they should have contacted you about continuing the process.

I am a little leery that your father followed the correct procedure. It also appears that your father was relying on a non-lawyer to complete the process for him and that person disappeared, which is always a danger when a non-lawyer is paid to perform immigration/legal services. Lawyers cannot disappear unless they are no longer members of the Bar.

I doubt that your file is still active, but the first thing I would do is to contact the US embassy to see if the file is still open. Second, just to be sure, you and your father should have a private DNA test performed to ensure that you are his biological child if he does not have the results of the 2008 test.

If you are, in fact, the biological child of your father, you can either proceed with today's procedure if your file is still open, or your father should refile the petition using a licensed attorney to assist in the process. If the private DNA indicates that you are not the biological child of your father, the petition cannot move forward as there would be no biological or legal relationship.

n 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. Email info@walkerhuntington.com.