Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Immigration Corner | Want back into US, despite criminal past

Published:Tuesday | January 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

A few years ago I was living in the United States (US) on a visiting visa, attended high school as I was in my late teens. After completing high school I had no job opportunity because I had no legal status. I was young, got influenced and engaged in a 'hustle'. It's not something I am proud of. I was subsequently arrested, charged and deported. I was never convicted or appeared in court for the charges as US immigration put me into custody once they found out my immigration status.

However, I was deported for visa violations which leads me to believe the initial charges did not bare on the case. Upon my deportation, I was handed a ten-year ban after which I was told I can apply for entry. It has been 13 years since I landed in Jamaica and I have attended university, obtained a degree and I'm currently pursuing post-graduate qualifications. I have not seen my mother who lives in the states for 13 years and I wish to visit her. Is there a possibility I may get to visit?

- AM

Dear AM:

Your underlying criminal charge must be investigated and the outcome determined in any pursuit of a return to the US. It is important to know if the case was resolved and/or dismissed because you would not want to return to an open criminal case. Likewise, the disposition of the case would be needed for submission with any waiver.

If your desire is to return on a visit, notwithstanding the fact that you have been out of the US for 13 years and that you may have been deported only on immigration violations, you would not be able to walk into the US embassy and obtain a non-immigrant visa without simultaneously obtaining a non-immigrant waiver.

If you wish to migrate to the US, the outcome of your criminal case and the underlying charge becomes even more relevant. It could mean the unavailability of US residency as there may not be a corresponding waiver available due to your inadmissibility for the criminal charge.

Keep in mind that non-immigrant visas are discretionary and up to the consular office if they determine that you will visit and return and if you are inadmissible. The consular determines if your entry will be a threat to the welfare of the US.

- 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.