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Immigration Corner: To marry or not to marry?

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2015 | 6:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My mother, a United States (US) permanent resident since 2012, filed a petition for me in December 2013 (F2B category). I am 24 years old, unmarried with no kids, but I want to get married to my fiance. However, my family members have been encouraging me to not get married, as that will delay or cease the process. How true is this? Can you please explain the process in this regard? How long would I have to wait before my visa application is processed? I have been checking the visa bulletin but people say the US visa centre does not work by the bulletin; please let me know the truth. If I get married now, in what ways will my application be affected? When is the best time to get married without causing a delay in the processing of the visa application?

- ND

Dear ND,

In the F2B category (over 21 years old, unmarried daughter of a green-card holder), visas are currently being processed for persons with priority dates earlier than August 22, 2008. Therefore, if your mother filed your petition in December, 2013 it will take approximately six and a half years (at the current rate) for a visa to become available for you.

Once she is eligible, your mother can become a US citizen and that will move your petition to the F1 category (over 21S year old, unmarried daughter of a US citizen). In that category, visas are being processed for priority dates before August 1, 2007. As you can see, your mother becoming a US citizen will speed up the processing by one year.

On the other hand if you marry your fiance while your mother is a green- card holder, it will void your petition. If you marry when your mother is a US citizen, it will change your category to F3 - married daughter of a US citizen and that category is taking approximately nine years. The upside to being filed for in the F3 category is that both you and your husband will be able to migrate at the same time, but it takes a little longer for a visa to become available.

When a petitioner files a petition, it is done with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They have processing times that can be accessed via their website www.uscis.gov. Once the petition is approved, the file is given a priority date and it is sent to the US Department of State, National Visa Center. The file stays there until it is ready to be processed for the visa - i.e., when the priority date becomes current. The National Visa Center issues the monthly visa bulletins that tell us what priority dates are being processed during the month.

- 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