Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Immigration Corner | I got married, can I travel?

Published:Tuesday | June 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington:

I am from Jamaica and I recently went to the United States for the first time and got married to my daughter's mother in Florida. I am on four month's vacation leave at home, where I serve in the military. My question is, can I go home to Jamaica after I submit my documents to the immigration before I get the work permit? My contract ends very soon in the military.

- Concerned

Dear Concerned:

If you travel to the United States and do anything to change your status within your first 90 days of being present in the United States it can be denied, e.g., getting married and filing a petition to change your status. The presumption will be that you intended to change your status when you arrived as a non-immigrant and therefore violated the terms of your visa. Therefore, while your application for a change of status may otherwise be approved, it can be denied.

When a person files to change their status, if they want to leave the United States while the petition is pending, they must first receive permission from the US Department of Homeland Security. If they leave the USA without permission while their petition to change status is pending, they will be deemed to have abandoned the petition.

Since you still have your commitment to your job in Jamaica, filing to change your status within the time frame that you have for vacation may not be in your best interest. You would be best advised to seek the services of a US immigration attorney to carefully plan your pathway to migrating to the United States, as in your case, you may be better off remaining in Jamaica and file your petition to consular process the green card and not file to change your status.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, 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.