Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Immigration Corner | Filing for a spouse

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2020 | 12:12 AM

Dear Mrs Walker- Huntington,

My spouse is a US citizen living in Jamaica. My question is, we are planning to get married in Florida, but can he file for me even if he is living in Jamaica?


– GB


Dear GB:

‘Spouse’ is defined as Married person, husband or wife – Merriam Webster Dictionary.

If you are not legally married, you do not have a spouse. This distinction has created problems for numerous Jamaicans because of the use of the word ‘spouse’. You may have a long-term and/or committed relationship with a person, but until you are legally married, you do not have a spouse. This has caused people to answers questions on US immigration forms incorrectly and has led to charges of immigration fraud when, in reality, it is a misunderstanding that comes from the incorrect usage of the word ‘spouse’.

If your US citizen fiancé lives in Jamaica and plans to marry you and file a petition for your US residency on your behalf, he can file while living in Jamaica, but the filing takes on a more challenging twist. In addition to proving the validity of your relationship, there are issues with living outside the United States when petitioning for a spouse. When the petition gets to the US State Department for consular processing, a petitioner needs to be domiciled in the United States, i.e., the petitioner must treat the US as their permanent home.

If the petitioner is still residing in Jamaica when the beneficiary goes to the US Embassy for their residency interview, the petitioner has to demonstrate that they intend to migrate with the beneficiary if he/she is successful with their immigrant visa. The process of demonstrating that you intend to migrate will vary from family to family, e.g., the petitioner can seek employment in America or starts a business in preparation to return to live in the US. Preparations should be made before the beneficiary goes to the immigrant visa interview and the proof should be taken to the interview. Be reminded that if you have a non-immigrant visa and appear for an immigrant visa interview, your non-immigrant visa is cancelled; and if there are pending issues with the green card petition, you will not be able to travel until the immigrant visa is issued.

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. info@walkerhuntington.com.