Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Immigration Corner | Scared to seek a US visa

Published:Tuesday | November 28, 2017 | 12:10 AM


Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington:

When I was 11 years old my mother sent me to live with my father in the United States.

While living in the States I was attending school. I went from middle school to high school. When I was living there I had no documentation of my own, no passport, no visa etc. However, in 2008 my dad was arrested and was being prepared for deportation. No family member would take me in to live with them in America. I went to the Jamaican Consulate in New York where I received an emergency passport to return home to Jamaica.

At the time of returning, I was still a minor. I have been living in Jamaica since 2008. I am now married with a toddler. I have brothers and sisters living in the States, they were born there. I miss them a lot and plan on visiting. My husband always tells me I should apply for a visitor's visa, but I am scared. I don't know if it will be granted. Since I returned to Jamaica I applied for a Jamaican passport which is the first I have ever owned. How should I go about the process, should I apply with the normal procedure?

Best Regards,


Dear TJS:

First, please get a clear understanding from your mother and, or your father about how and why you ended up in America when you were 11 years old. If it is as you say that you never had a Jamaican passport before the one you applied for and received as an adult, you may have been sent to America on fraudulent documents. The saving grace in your story is that you returned to Jamaica when you were a minor. However, for the purposes of fraud and or undocumented presence in America, minors must be under the age of eighteen - if so, fraud or illegal presence in America does not apply to the minor.

When you apply for your US visitor's visa and at your interview, please be truthful on the application and with the Consular Officer. No one can tell anyone that they will receive a US non-immigrant visa because no one is entitled to a US visa. The Consular Officer will make a subjective decision as to whether you are qualified for a visa or not. This means that even if you did not have this past history with the United States and applied for a visitor's visa, you could be denied the visa.

At your interview, you should take proof of your ties to Jamaica that will help to convince the Consular Officer of your intent to return to Jamaica after a brief trip to the United States. If the Officer denies your visa on the basis of your previous time in the United States, you will have to reapply for the visitor's visa with a Non-Immigrant Waiver (NIW).A NIW presents a documented, factual and legal argument to the US Embassy as to why you should be granted a non-immigrant visa that you would otherwise be qualified to receive - if it were not for your unlawful presence in the United States.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq. is a Jamaican-American attorney who practices immigration law in the United States; and Family, Criminal, International & Personal Injury Law in Florida. She is a Mediator, Arbitrator and Special Magistrate in Broward County, Florida.