Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Immigration Corner | What's my best option?

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My dad is now a US citizen who lives in the state of Florida and wants to start filing for me. I am over 21 and unmarried. How long will this process take? Can I put in my children's applications for filing when he is putting in mine? My son is nine and my daughter is 20 years old; can he file for them when he is filing for me? If I were to wait until I get through, how soon before I can start filing for my kids? I normally visit the US on a visitor's visa. The next time I go, can my father put in the papers while I'm there, and can I stay and change my status there from a visitor?

- K.C.

Dear K.C.,

A permanent resident petition filed by a US citizen parent for their adult, unmarried daughter is currently taking approximately seven years. Your father could have filed for you (because you are unmarried) when he was a green-card holder. He did not have to wait to become a US citizen.

When a parent files for a daughter, the minor grandchildren are derivative beneficiaries of the petition. They should be listed on the petition and when the visa is ready for final processing, they will be listed on the National Visa Center's documents. If the grandchildren reach age 21 before the visa is available, they can 'age out' and not qualify for the visa. In some instances, the grandchild/derivative may qualify for protection under the Child Status Protection Act, even after age 21.

If your older child ages out, you will have to file a new petition for her once you become a permanent resident. As a green-card holder, you can file for your unmarried son or daughter. That processing time is currently seven years.

You would only be able to remain in the states and change your status from a visitor to a permanent resident if a visa is immediately available to you - and in the case of your father's petition, a visa would not be available to you for seven years. If you were to remain during the process you would become out of status, be illegally in the States, and be ineligible to change your status once the visa did become available.

- 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. info@walkerhuntington.com