Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Immigration Corner: He took my son from me

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

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am seeking your assistance regarding my six-year-old son. He went to America on December 18 2014. His father, while filing for him, only made me aware at the end of the process, when he was to attend a medical at Andrew's Memorial, and when he went for the interview, I was not asked whether I agreed with anything. He assured me and my family members that he was not planning to keep the child for longer than the Christmas holidays. However, by December 19, he stopped answering my calls, and to date I have spoken to my child seven times.

I called the police in Richmond, Virginia, and they visited the house and encouraged me to contact the Magistrates office; however, I was told that I have to be in America for any steps to be taken. I will be travelling to New York at the end of the month then to Virginia. I was of the impression that I would have to sign documents handing custody to him and I did not sign any documents.

- AC

Dear AC,

Unfortunately, this is a scenario that plays out all too often, where one parent is sponsored for permanent residency, their minor child is also filed for, and they take the child to America and sever ties with the other parent left behind in Jamaica.

Lucky for you that you have a US visa and are able to travel to America to sort this out. You should hire a family-law attorney in Richmond, Virginia, who has experience in custody matters and you need to do so quickly. The longer your son remains in the States, the less likely it will be that a judge will change custody and return him to Jamaica. I am sure that your son is already enrolled in school in Virginia. Although you did not sign any papers, you tacitly gave permission for your son to migrate when you allowed his father to take him for the immigrant visa interview.

Your attorney will have to convince the judge that your son's father tricked you into allowing your son to have a green card and that he has severed your ties with your son. Send all communication and documentation to the attorney in Virginia. If you do not know of an attorney in that area, contact the Virginia Bar Association and they will be able to direct you to a referral.

As an example to other mothers and fathers in Jamaica, only permit your child to receive a green card if you intend for that child to migrate with the other parent. All persons in possession of a green card are supposed to live and work or attend school in the States. If you are not ready for your child to migrate, seek the proper legal advice and decide whether the migrating parent should, in turn, file for the child at a later date when the child is ready to reside in the US.

- 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. info@walkerhuntington.com