Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Immigration Corner | Application confusion

Published:Monday | September 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My father petitioned for me as an unmarried child in 2005. The petition was approved but in 2011 when I submitted the application for the immigrant visa, it was refused because I got married. My stepmother resubmitted my petition in 2012 as a married child and I'm waiting on the immigrant visa.

My concern is, my marriage is not working out and I plan to file for a divorce. Will my divorce affect the processing of my immigrant visa? Should I inform the authorities that I am going to file for a divorce? What would happen if the immigrant visa is ready before the divorce is finalised?

- B.R.

Dear B.R.,

The only way in which your petition would be denied due to your marriage is if your father was a green-card holder/permanent resident during the pendency of your petition, or if you married before he became a US citizen. A green-card holder cannot file a petition for a married son or daughter, only a US citizen can file a petition for a married offspring.

If your green-card holder parent files for you as single, becomes a US citizen and then you marry, the petition would be downgraded to the F3 category of married son or daughter. That would not result in the petition being denied, but delayed.

If your marriage has failed, you would need to be legally divorced and then notify the last US government agency that was in contact with you. If that was the National Visa Center (NVC), this means your petition has been approved and you are waiting on your priority date to become current, i.e., for a visa to become available. Visas are available for unmarried adult daughters of US citizens (F1 category) with priority dates of May 2010. Married daughters are in the F3 category and visas are current for those with priority date of July 2005.

It is a five-year difference in the waiting time for married and unmarried daughters. When you are divorced, send a certified copy of your divorce absolute to the NVC and request a change of category. In the unlikely event that the visa is available before your divorce is finalised, advise the NVC and the US Embassy that you are separated and that your husband will not be travelling with you to the States.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal, international and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.