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Immigration Corner | Will my son be taken away?

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 7:00 AM

 

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am a Jamaican who went to America a few years ago on a work visa. I overstayed and got married to a Jamaican who was a green-card holder at the time. We did the paperwork in America but were told to go to the embassy in Kingston for the interview. I was denied the visa. As a result, my son, who was born in America, has been living here in Jamaica with me. When he came to Jamaica, they gave him a month in his United States (US) passport. That was four years ago. His US passport will expire in a few months. If I try to renew the US passport in Jamaica, will they take him away? If I send him to America to his father to renew it, will he be able to come back to Jamaica and live with me?

- M.H.

Dear M.H.,

I am sorry that you followed wrong advice and were denied a green card at the US embassy in Jamaica. When a person overstays more than a year in the States and leaves the country, a mandatory 10-year bar to returning to the US is automatically triggered. However, there is a waiver that is available, which, if granted, allows the person to return to the States within a matter of months. You also could have waited for your husband to become a US citizen and change your immigration status from an expired work visa to that of a green-card holder.

You have not indicated if you are still in a viable marriage with your husband, or if he is now a US citizen. If you are, then a waiver remains available for you to return to the States to your family.

APPLY FOR JAMAICAN CITIZENSHIP

As it pertains to your American son, he is also a Jamaican citizen. However, what you have done by having him remain in Jamaica beyond the month he was given makes him an overstay in Jamaica. You need to contact the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) to secure unconditional landing or to apply for Jamaican citizenship. If you encounter issues with having this done, please secure the services of an attorney licensed to practice law in Jamaica to assist with his matter. As you have learned, immigration is a life-altering practise of law and not everyone who purports to know this area of law is knowledgeable, and wrong advice can have life-long effects.

Renewing your son's US passport at the US embassy in Jamaica is one option that you have - no one can take your son away from you, unless he is being abused, abandoned or neglected. He could, however, have issues with the Jamaican Government because he has overstayed his allotted time in Jamaica. However, a Jamaican attorney should be able to assist you to correct that issue. If he tries to leave Jamaica after having been in the country without permission for years, he could encounter problems with Jamaican immigration.

- 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. huntington.com