Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Immigration Corner | Should marriage wait?

Published:Tuesday | September 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

A son is filing for his father. The process just started. The father is about to be married. Should the father wait until the filing comes through before he gets married? If he has to wait, how long after the filing will the father be able to get married and how long will it take for the father to file for his wife to join him?

- YC


Dear YC,

An over 21-year-old US citizen son or daughter can file a US residency petition for their biological parents. They can also file petitions for step-parents, if the

marriage established the step-parent relationship took place before the petitioner (adult US citizen son or daughter) was 18 years old.

There are some situations where being married and marrying during the process has an impact on the filing. If your parent has filed a petition for you to live in America and you marry during the process, the marriage will change things. If your parent is a green-card holder and files a petition on your behalf and you marry during the process, the petition is void. A green-card holder cannot file for a married son or daughter. Also, if a US citizen parent files for an unmarried son or daughter and they marry during the process it will change the preference category and extend the waiting time for a visa to become available.


Separate petition


It does not matter if the parent being filed for is married or not, or if the parent marries during the processing of the petition. If the parent does get married after the filing has begun, they need to notify the National Visa Center and ensure that the spouse is listed on all documents going forward. Listing the spouse does not mean that the spouse will travel with the parent; a separate petition has to be filed for the new spouse. In your scenario, the father can go ahead with his marriage plans. When the husband receives his green card, he can immediately file for his new spouse - there is no waiting period before filing.

- 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.