Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Immigration Corner | What to do with my mother

Published:Tuesday | December 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
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Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My mother is a US citizen although she is currently living with me here in Jamaica. She suffers from memory loss, and I had to move her from my sister's house because she was neglecting her.

My mom is due to return to the United States next year, but with her memory issues, I'm concerned for her to travel alone. I would like to accompany her to my cousin, with whom she'll be living, and I'm wondering if it will be difficult to obtain a visa to take her back home next year. I never wished for her to file for me. I hope you can advise me.

- E.C.

Dear E.C.,

Every applicant for a United States non-immigrant visa is viewed as having an intent to migrate, and the burden is placed on the applicant to convince the US consular officer otherwise. This is an elusive standard and can prove to be a difficult task.

The consular officer looks at the person's ties to their home country, for example, whether they are employed, are in school, are married, have children, own property, or have bills/obligations that they must meet at home. That can be hard to document in a country like Jamaica where many people work in the 'underground economy' and have no proof of income. Also, people live on family property/home and have no proof of home ownership/ obligation or payment of monthly bills. Others live for many years in a common-law relationship and have no documents to prove the validity of their union.

If an applicant, especially a first-time applicant, for a non-immigrant visa has a US or green card-holder relative who could potentially file for them to migrate, the bar goes a little higher in having to convince the consular officer that you do not wish to migrate. The thought is that you would go to America to visit your relative and not return. It is not feasible in many instances for a person with a non-immigrant visa to be able to remain in the United States and have their relative file to change their status - that only exists for spouses of US citizens, parents of US citizens, or minor children of US citizens. Even if there is a pending application, unless you fall into one of the previously listed categories, you would not be able to adjust status unless your status in the United States was current.

In your particular situation, you should make a truthful application for a visitor's visa to take your ailing mother back to the United States and have as much documentary evidence as possible regarding your ties to Jamaica and the reason for the trip. No one can guarantee whether the consular officer will approve you for a visa or not. If you are not granted the visa, you would have to make arrangements for someone in the United States to travel to Jamaica and take your mother back to the US.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Email info@walkerhuntington.com.