Fri | Apr 20, 2018

Immigration Corner: I want to be with my husband

Published:Tuesday | April 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My husband started to file for me in December 2015. He did the filing through a non- profit organisation in New York.

He has now found out that his kidneys are damaged and he is depressed and worried, and as a result of that, I'm also depressed. I just want to know if with him being diagnosed, is there anything immigration can do that can assist my case? My husband is a green-card holder for four years now. He filed for me and my three children. He said filing with the green card lessened the cost.

- T.F.


Dear T.F.,

Sorry to hear about your husband's condition. This does present an urgency for your family to be reunited as soon as possible. You did not indicate when you were married, whether your children are your husband's children and how old they are.

If the children are not your husband's, but you were married before your children were 18 years old, he can file for them. If the marriage took place when any your children were 18 years old or older, your husband will not be able to file for any child who was over 18 as a step-parent.

As a green-card holder filing for his wife and children under 21 years old, you the beneficiary are in the F2A preference category and the petition first has to be approved by US Department of Homeland Security - US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). That takes about four to six months to be processed and approved. Once approved, the file is assigned a priority date and transferred to the State Department - National Visa Center (NVC) to await processing for the visa and for the file to be scheduled for an interview at the US embassy in Kingston once the priority date is current. The NVC is now processing documents for the F2A category for those who were filed for before June 15, 2015, and visas are available for the F2A category for those with priority dates of October 22, 2014 and earlier.

Your file is probably still awaiting approval by USCIS. When a green-card holder files for their spouse, the listed children - if eligible - can be split into their own files at the NVC stage. This is why your husband was told that filing as a green-card holder was less expensive because he only filed one petition with USCIS. As a US citizen, he would have to file four petitions at the beginning - one for each of you.

The only expediting that can happen in your case is if your priority date is current and your husband is gravely ill, the NVC and the US embassy can work together to schedule an interview if your file is complete. However, as a US citizen, the process for you to get your interview would have been nine months to a year. Depending on how close your husband is to being eligible for his US citizenship, he should consider filing for naturalisation. This would however, mean that he would have to file separate petitions for each of the children. You both need to sit down and make the best decision for your family as you appear to have competing interests to getting to where you want to be, i.e., together as a family 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.