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Immigration Corner | Should I renew my visa?

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Clipart graphic Worried

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My visa will be expiring soon. However, my mother, who is a US citizen and living in America, filed for me in 2012. Do you think I should reapply for a visitor's visa? Do you think it would be granted? I have never spent more than a month overseas and I only spent that longwhen my mom was ill.

- S

Dear S,

When a person applies for a non-immigrant (visitor's) visa, the consular officer has to be convinced that they will visit the US and return to their home country. Consequently, the officer looks at the applicant's life in their country their financial situation, if they married, have minor children under their care, employed, own a business, have employees, have financial commitments, own or lease their homes, etc. The officer also looks at whether the applicant has immediate relatives in the US and whether a petition to migrate is pending. If that is the case, the applicant has to overcome the presumption that they have an intention to migrate and not only to visit.

Notwithstanding that a person may demonstrate significant ties to their home country, the consular officer can still deny the applicant a non-immigrant visa because the officer is allowed to use subjective reasons to deny the visa. That is, the officer can decide that even though the person meets all or several of the criteria that he or she is looking at, the applicant simply will not return home once they have entered the US. However, this is not to say that the embassy does not issue visas to those persons with pending immigrant visa applications. The officer just has to be convinced, based on the circumstances of that particular applicant, that the person will return home and wait until an immigrant visa is available.

It is important that if you decide to apply to renew your visa while an immigrant visa petition is pending, you truthfully complete your non-immigrant visa application, indicating that a visa petition is pending on your behalf. Many persons, in wanting to improve their chances of obtaining a non-immigrant visa, are not honest on their applications, omitting the pending immigrant visa petition. That omission is considered immigration fraud and will come back to haunt the applicant when the visa petition is current.

- 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.