Thu | Feb 22, 2018

Immigration Corner | Will the US let me in?

Published:Tuesday | April 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I am a Jamaican citizen who recently married a permanent resident of the United States (US). The wedding took place in Jamaica. I hold a US B1/B2 visa that I had travelled on as recently as last year. When I went to visit my spouse last year we were not yet married. However, before I was allowed in the US, I was questioned as to whether I was married to him. So, now that I am married, should I be concerned that I may not be allowed to visit him on the B1/B2 visa?

- J.S.


Dear JS,

Anyone who is not a US citizen can be prevented from entering the States. This includes green-card holders, business visa holders and any non-immigrant visa holder. The concept is that green cards and non-immigrant visas give you legal permission to travel to the border of the US and request permission to enter. For various reasons, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry can deny you entry into the US.

As a non-immigrant either applying for a visa or for entry into the US, the burden is on you to convince either the consular officer at an embassy or the CBP officer at the border that you intend to visit temporarily and return to your home country, that is, that you do not have an intent to migrate. When a non-immigrant is married to an American citizen or a permanent resident, or is otherwise an immediate relative of a US citizen or green-card holder, you have a rebuttable presumption to migrate. You can rebut that presumption by proving to the CBP officer that you intend to visit and return home until your husband's petition for you to join him in America has been finalised.

For each person, that proof will be different, but generally you must show that you have sufficient ties to your home country and that you will return after your temporary visit. You should travel with your proof and be prepared to present it to the CBP officer if the purpose of your visit is questioned. Proof can include but is not limited to, employment or business ties; birth certificates of minor children; property ownership; business interests, etc.

At all times, be honest with the CBP officer as any falsehoods would be deemed fraud and would present a bar to your husband's petition for your US residency. He should begin filing for you immediately. It is currently taking about two years for the spouse of a permanent resident to get to an interview for their green card.

- 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.