Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Turning my eyes to the US

Published:Tuesday | February 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I'm a teacher who has always tried to contribute to the building of my nation. I was never interested in going to live in America; not permanently anyway. This all changed last October after I went to the United States (US) for the birth of my first child, my son who is a US citizen. Now that I?m a parent I no longer see my life the way I did before. One such change is my determination to give my child every single opportunity and the best life possible. How do I go about migrating to the States to raise my family?

- CH

Dear CH,

Although you are the parent of a US citizen child, it does not give you any rights to reside in the States. When your son is 21 years old, he can file for you to live in the US as the immediate relative of a US citizen.

There are some other options that could place you in the US in the short run. If the mother of your child is residing in the States legally, and you are having a relationship, she could marry you and petition for you for permanent residency status. She can do this if she is a green card holder or a US citizen. If she is a green card holder, the processing time is now about two years; and if she is a US citizen the processing time is nine months to a year if you remain in Jamaica and four to six months if you adjust status in the US.

You also have employment options - as a teacher, and depending on your education degree you can seek a US employer who would be willing to hire you either temporarily or permanently. There are several programmes that hire teachers temporarily to work in the States. The Ministry of Labour should be able to guide you in this regard.

You could also seek higher education in the US to either obtain your first degree or an advanced degree. Employment or educational visas are usually temporary unless your employer is willing to file for a green card on your behalf which takes a number of years.

Please know that you do not have to live in Jamaica in order to contribute to nation building. Jamaica is a unique country in many ways and one of those is that there is estimated to be an equal number of Jamaicans living overseas as living in the country. Many Jamaicans living in the Diaspora give back to Jamaica daily in many ways and serve as an important cornerstone for the advancement of the country.

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.