Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Immigration Corner: What's the best option for my brother?

Published:Tuesday | March 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My brother has a pending petition from his eldest son who is a United States (US) citizen. Can he come here to the US and work using the Social Security Number he got a few years ago? Would it jeopardise his sponsorship? Would it be faster if my brother enters with his visitor's visa? He is in need of money. His wife has cancer.

- N

Dear N,

Sorry to learn about your sister-in-law's diagnosis. However, what your brother is thinking of doing is against the law and he could lose his visa and be denied residency that his son has already filed for.

Working without authorisation in the US is fraught with issues. People who are not authorised to work while they are in the US include those who are admitted temporarily on a B1/B2 visa. While there are many persons who do visit the States and work, they do so illegally. This can result in the revocation of the visa during an attempted entry or when they are seeking to renew their visas at the US embassy.

Even if you have a social security card, it should say that the holder is not authorised to work without permission. While some companies may not ask your immigration status or accept the card without asking for additional permission, your brother should not do this.

If your nephew is a US citizen and filed for his father it should take nine months to a year for your brother to get an interview at the US embassy in his country. If the father was not married to his son's mother, the process may take longer as the US government tries to prove paternity and parent-child relationship. Your brother should not jeopardise his residency in the US for the short-term relief of working illegally in the US.

As the parent of a US citizen your brother is considered an immediate relative and could apply for a change of status if he were legally admitted to the US. If he came to the US on a visit and 30 days later decided to stay, his son could apply to change his status. In the application for the change of status he would apply for a work permit that would allow him to legally work while his petition was pending. The work permit is normally approved 90 days after the petition is filed. That would still leave your brother in the US for at least four months before he would get a work permit.

The issue in your brother's case is that if he was already petitioned for residency while living outside the US and if he came to the US in the middle of the filing, it could raise a red flag. Your brother ought to consult with a US immigration attorney before he makes any move that could hurt his future chances of living in America.

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.