Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Immigration Corner | Withholding information from the embassy

Published:Tuesday | August 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My partner of a year resides in the United States, and he has visited me three times since we started dating. We have spoken about marriage, but I am just not ready to leave Jamaica yet. I am in a very good job, and I have my beautiful daughter currently enrolled in kindergarten. I am not ready to just pack up her and leave just yet.

I plan to get married around February 2020 if it's God's will. My daughter has a visa as she travels with her dad for vacation. I have been planning to visit my partner in Miami on his birthday as a surprise. I plan to apply for a visa, but I don't want to involve him on my visa application.

Should I tell the embassy, or not? Either way, I will become a US citizen by marriage shortly. I have no family in the United States, the only person I know is my partner.

- KA

Dear K.A.,

You must answer all questions on the visa application and those asked of you by the consular officer truthfully, even if the answer results in your being denied the visa. Giving false information on a visa application or to a consular officer is immigration fraud and would result in your being permanently barred from travelling to the United States - unless you were granted a waiver.

At your non-immigrant visa interview, you should take proof of your employment and your ties to Jamaica to demonstrate to the consular officer that you intend to visit and return. If the officer decides that you do not have enough ties to Jamaica and denies the visa, that will not have a permanent negative impact on your records. You can always apply again, and most importantly for you, it will not negatively impact any application to migrate to the United States.

Wanting to surprise your partner is admirable, but if you are placing his name on the application as the person who you are going to visit and the embassy should call and that cannot be verified, you would have a problem. The same goes if you are granted the visa and arrive in the United States, and Customs and Border Protection calls your partner to ask about your visit and your partner has no clue that he arriving.

If and when you do marry your partner, you and your minor child would first be eligible for permanent residency (a green card). You would only be eligible for US citizenship if you remain married and living with your partner for three years. If the marriage does not remain viable for three years, you would have to wait five years to apply for US citizenship.

If you are unsuccessful with a visitor's visa application, your partner can apply for a fiancÈ visa for you and your daughter. If that visa is granted, you would go to the United States and test whether you like the country and how compatible you are with your boyfriend. You would then have 90 days to marry your boyfriend and file for permanent residency while remaining in the United States.

- 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. info@walkerhuntington.com.