Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Immigration Corner | Can grandma file for me?

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I would like to know if my grandmother who is filing for my mom can attach my sister and I (both over the age of 21). Does she attach our names on my mom's I-130 form or does she have to do separate ones for each of us? Also, would the processing time for all three of us be the same?

- SB

Dear SB,

In 99 per cent of situations, in order for a person to migrate to the United States (US) they need a sponsor. That sponsor has to be either a family member or an employer/organisation.

As a family member, a US citizen can file for their spouse, under- 21-year-old children, their married and unmarried sons and daughters (over 21 years old) and their siblings. Green-card holder family members (lawful permanent residents) can file for their spouses, under-21-year-old unmarried children and over- 21-year-old unmarried sons and daughters.

If a person is not in one of the above categories, they cannot file a family petition.

When a parent files for their son or daughter and there is a grandchild, that grandchild is considered a derivative beneficiary if they are under 21 years of age when the visa is available. If the grandchild is over 21 years old, they cannot travel with their parent - they are considered to have 'aged out' and the parent must then file a separate petition for their child - if eligible.

In your situation, your grandmother cannot file a separate petition for you or your sister. If you were under 21 years of age, you could have been attached to your mother's file. In this instance, your mother has to file two separate petitions for you and your sister once she becomes a green-card holder. However, while your mother is a green-card holder during the filing of her daughters' petitions, if either of you get married, the petition will be voided because a green-card holder cannot file for a married son or daughter.

- 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.