Sun | Apr 22, 2018

Immigration Corner | What documents do I need while I wait for my green card?

Published:Tuesday | March 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My boyfriend is a green card holder for almost three years. He wants me to come to the Unite States and for us to get married. What kind of document would I get in the US for me to be legal while I wait for my green card? I know I would not get a green card because he hasn't got his citizenship as yet.

- M.W.

Dear M.W.,

A lawful permanent resident (green card holder) can file for their spouse and unmarried children. The spouses and under-21-year-old children are in the F2A Preference Category and it is currently taking two years for those beneficiaries to be scheduled for an appointment at the embassy in Jamaica. If the son or daughter of the green card holder is 21 years old or older, they are in the F2B Preference Category and those petitions are currently taking seven years to get an interview. A green card holder cannot file for a married son or daughter. If a son or daughter beneficiary of a green card holder marries while their petition is pending, the petition is voided and would have to be refiled when the parent becomes a US citizen.

The spouse of a green card holder cannot legally remain in the United States while their petition is pending (two years), as at the end of the period of stay, they would have overstayed the time allowed at the airport. A green card holder cannot file to change the status of their beneficiary from a visitor or expired visitor to that of a permanent resident. When your visa is ready, you would have to leave the US and return home to be interviewed at the US Embassy. Having overstayed your allotted time in America, once you left you would trigger a three- or 10-year mandatory bar to returning to America - unless you were granted a waiver.

Spouses of green card holders must remain outside the United States during the pendency of their filing - they can visit the US if they have the requisite visa, but they are unable to legally remain in the US during the process. There is no document that would allow you to legally remain in the US while you are waiting on the visa/green card to become available.

You can go to the US and marry your green card fiance and he can file for you, but you cannot stay or overstay during the process.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises 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. Email: info@walkerhuntington.com