Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Immigration Corner | How do we gain residence?

Published:Tuesday | March 7, 2017 | 12:03 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am a British citizen. My spouse is Jamaican and a green-card holder. We have a 14-year-old son born in Jamaica who did not gain his green card because his mother was filed for by her daughter. I am filing for the son's British passport. For our family to gain residence in the USA, what would we have to do? I also have a daughter in the USA who is a green-card holder.

- K.W.

Dear K.W.,

Your permanent resident (green-card holder) wife can file a petition for you and your minor son to join her in the US. Many persons are under the mistaken belief that only US citizens can petition for their family members. However, green-card holders can file for their spouses and their unmarried children. A US citizen can file for their spouse, unmarried and married children, parents and siblings.

There is also the option of your US citizen step-daughter to file a petition for you if your marriage to her mother took place before she was 18 years old. Your step-daughter could also file for her brother, but that filing would not be feasible as it would take more than 13 years for a visa to become available for her brother. Your green-card holder daughter would be unable to file a residency petition on your behalf; she would have to be a US citizen.

As a green-card holder, your wife's petition would take approximately two years and she would only have to file one petition for you and your son, and your son would be able to accompany you to America. However, if she is close to becoming a US citizen, then she should file two separate petitions and upgrade the petitions to immediate relatives once she becomes an American citizen. The US citizen petition would take nine months to a year and you would keep the same priority.

- 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.