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Immigration Corner | How do I get my son settled in the US?

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2016 | 7:00 AMDear Mrs Walker- Huntington,

I would really like your advice on a very important matter regarding my son.

My son is 17 and turns 18 at the end of August. I am getting married in July (before he turns 18) and my husband, who is a United States (US) citizen, will be petitioning for both of us. I will be in the US then and my son will join us in August.

The thing is, I want my son to do one year of high school in the US with the aim of him getting a football scholarship.

Is it true that he needs a social security number to start school in September? And how long after the papers have been filed would he have to wait, providing that there is no mistake on the forms? Also, how soon after we file will I get a work permit and social security number?

Thanks in advance.

- K.B.

Dear K.B.:

Children who attend public school in the United States can do so even if they are undocumented and have no social security numbers.

The United States Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, (1982) ruled that undocumented students have the same rights as US citizens and permanent residents to attend public primary and high schools. In fact, like US citizens and permanent residents, they are required to attend school.

Once your US citizen husband files to change your status and that of your minor son, you should receive your work permits within 90 days of your petitions being accepted. Once the work authorizations are received, you can then apply for your social security numbers. Normally, the in-person adjustment interview takes four to six months from the filing of the petition.

Please ensure that neither petition is filed within 30 days of the arrival in the United States of either yourself or your son, as the petition(s) could be denied. US Immigration has a so-called '30-day rule' that presumes that if a petition to change non-immigrant status is filed within 30 days of the arrival of the immigrant in the United States, the presumption is that the person(s) arrived with the intent to migrate and not as a non-immigrant.

You should also explore whether your son will be accepted to high school in the United States because of his age.

You did not indicate what was the last grade that your son completed in high school in Jamaica, but you should not take it for granted that he will be enrolled in high school in the United States.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Es. is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal & personal injury law in Florida. She is a Mediator, Arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com